A new study, published in the Lancet journal, has revealed that cognitive decline in older people at risk of dementia can be mitigated with healthy eating guidance, exercise, brain training, and management of metabolic and vascular risk factors.
The research study led by the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, and University of Eastern Finland examined the impact of a comprehensive intervention program on 1260 people from across Finland, aged 60-77 years. All of the study participants were deemed to be at risk for age-related dementia. Half of the research participants were randomly allocated to the intervention group and the other half were randomly allocated to a control group, who only received regular health advice.
The intervention program consisted of regular meetings over two years with physicians, nurses, and other health professionals, with participants given comprehensive advice on maintaining a healthy diet, exercise programs including both muscle and cardiovascular training, brain training exercises, and management of metabolic and vascular risk factors through regular blood tests, and other means. The study participants’ mental function was scored using the Neuropsychological Test Battery where a higher score corresponds to better mental functioning.
Test scores in the intervention group were 25% higher than in the control group. Other parts of the test revealed a striking difference between groups. For executive functioning (the brain’s ability to organize and regulate thought processes) scores were 83% higher in the intervention group, and processing speed was 150% higher.
Tiia Ngandu, Jenni Lehtisalo, Alina Solomon, Esko Levälahti, Satu Ahtiluoto, Riitta Antikainen, Lars Bäckman, Tuomo Hänninen, Antti Jula, Tiina Laatikainen, Jaana Lindström, Francesca Mangialasche, Teemu Paajanen, Satu Pajala, Markku Peltonen, Rainer Rauramaa, Anna Stigsdotter-Neely, Timo Strandberg, Jaakko Tuomilehto, Hilkka Soininen, Miia Kivipelto. A 2 year multidomain intervention of diet, exercise, cognitive training, and vascular risk monitoring versus control to prevent cognitive decline in at-risk elderly people (FINGER): a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60461-5