Is Alzheimer’s disease mostly genetic, or do lifestyle factors make a difference? A new study found that “the Simple Seven” make a difference, even for people who are at high genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
What is the Simple Seven?
The American Heart Association has identified what it calls “Life’s Simple Seven,” or LS7, a set of actions that can reduce your chances of heart disease:
- Stop Smoking: it’s always a good idea.
- Eat Better: consider the Mediterranean diet.
- Get Active: aim for 150 minutes a week of cardio, plus two sessions of strength training.
- Lose Weight: talk with your doctor about how to lose weight in a healthy way.
- Manage Blood Pressure: track your blood pressure and keep it in a healthy range.
- Control Cholesterol: diet, exercise, and giving up cigarettes can all help.
- Reduce Blood Sugar: an A1C test can tell you if you need to reduce your blood sugar.
Research shows that having ideal results in these seven areas can significantly reduce the chances of stroke and cardiovascular disease.
What’s the connection with Alzheimer’s?
A large, long-term study shows that people with higher LS7 scores in middle age are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease in old age. The study followed 11,561 people for about 30 years.
An earlier, smaller study showed similar results. That study found a correlation within six years, but the new study emphasizes the importance of working on the Simple 7 earlier in life.
There has also been research showing that high LS7 scores are correlated with higher cognitive function in older Americans who had not been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Taking these steps lays down protection against Alzheimer’s disease as well as cardiovascular disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. There is no cure, and one-third of Americans die with dementia of some kind.
There is evidence that there is a genetic component to Alzheimer’s, but it turns out that lifestyle choices can make a difference.
The Simple 7 are all factors under your control. Take action today to move closer to a high score on the Simple 7. Ask your primary care physician how you can determine your LS7 score.