Researchers at the Brain and Ageing Research Program at the University of New South Wales in Australia have tracked down six risk factors that could lead to cognitive impairment. These risk factors point to some unusual places and you may be unaware of their link to thinking and memory problems as you age.
In their effort to discover these six risk factors, the researchers evaluated 750 people, aged 70 to 90 without dementia. They performed a battery of tests on the participants to diagnose the presence of mild cognitive impairment.
Here’s what they found. Risk factors for mild cognitive impairment were linked to the following:
• The presence of the apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 allele (an apolipoprotein that forms LDL cholesterol or “bad” cholesterol)
• The presence of heart disease
• High levels of homocysteine (raised levels of this amino acid are associated with atherosclerosis)
• Poor odor identification ability (i.e. a poor sense of smell)
• Low visual acuity (i.e. poor vision)
• Lower mental activity
The researchers also found that the odds of having mild cognitive impairment were lower when the people in the study participated in greater levels of social activity. On the flip side, the risk for certain forms of cognitive impairment was greater in those taking antihypertensives and/or antidepressants (particularly in men).
Some of these risk factors may seem out of your control. However, the general rule of thumb here is that you need to live a healthy lifestyle, especially as you age. Get some exercise and eat a healthy diet. This health advice will help you to avoid many of these risk factors that are now being linked to mental health problems.
PLUS: More on the healthy diet/healthy brain link
Sources for Today’s Articles:
Six Top Risk Factors for Memory Loss
Sachdev, P.S., et al., “Risk profiles of subtypes of mild cognitive impairment: the sydney memory and ageing study,” J. Am. Geriatr. Soc. January 2013; 60(1): 24-33.