Dementia is incredibly common in the elderly, affecting one in six people over the age of 80.
Some common habits have been associated with higher chances of developing the disease.
But it can be prevented, even in those who have the greatest genetic risk, the researchers say.
Dementia deprives people of memory and is usually diagnosed over the age of 65 not the same as aging.
The most common form of dementia, affecting more than 850,000 people in the UK, is Alzheimer’s disease.
A new study examined the lifestyle habits of 11,500 people, averaging 54 years of age.
Each participant received seven habits from 0 (most unhealthy) to 14 (healthiest).
- Exercise levels
- Healthy diet
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar
Someone with a low score will be inactive, eat unhealthily, be overweight, smoke and have uncontrollable blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.
Participants were observed for 30 years to see if they had been diagnosed with dementia.
Europeans with the healthiest habits were less likely to develop dementia than their unhealthy brethren – even if their genetics worked against them.
Participants were divided into groups according to their genetic makeup.
It has already been found that those who have at least one copy of the APOE e4 variant have a higher genetic risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
About 28 percent of Europeans in the study were APOE e4while 40 percent of those are of African descent.
But a European with a genetically higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease was up to 43% less likely to get the disease if they followed good habits, compared to those who did not.
Among those of African descent, those who were healthiest had up to 17 percent less risk.
But the researchers said fewer participants in the group – about 2,700 from the sample – meant more research was needed.
Seven habits, known as Life’s Simple 7 by the American Heart Association, are actually designed to achieve perfect heart health.
You can use this online tool to Work Out Your Own Score in Simple 7.
It is understood that eating to protect the heart will promote brain health.
The NHS says: “Experts agree that what is good for your heart is also good for your brain.”
Studies show time and time again that those who choose a healthy lifestyle are less likely to have Alzheimer’s disease, but that doesn’t mean they are never diagnosed.
You can help reduce risk dementia by:
- A healthy, balanced diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Alcohol content within recommended limits
- Quit smoking
- Maintain your blood pressure at a healthy level