Exercise programmes for people with mild to moderate dementia "don't work", according to researchers writing in the British Medical Journal. They found no improvements in thinking skills or behaviour in more than 300 people in their 70s who did aerobic and strength exercises over four months. On the plus side, their physical fitness did improve, the study said. The Oxford researchers said future trials should explore other forms of exercise. Gentle, regular exercise was a good thing, they added, and there was no reason for anyone to stop exercising.
A recent study has compiled three key ways to slow down brain aging, and potentially delay or prevent Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. The report comes at a time when more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, with this number expected to grow to 18 million by 2050. While the exact causes of different forms of dementia are still not understood, doctors know they are partly caused by poor brain aging. The report, released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, used various outside research and journal articles to conclude that three main interventions - cognitive training, blood pressure maintenance, and increased exercise - may reduce or prevent cognitive decline associated with getting older. "The evidence is strong enough to suggest the public should at least have access to these results to help inform their decisions about how they can invest their time and resources to maintain brain health with aging," said Alan Leshner, chair of the committee and CEO emeritus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, The Australian reported.
WOLFRATSHAUSEN, GERMANY – NOVEMBER 15: Two female inhabitants of a residential care home for Alzheimer's disease and dementia patients walk hand-in-hand in the corridor of the residential home on November 15, 2011 in Wolfratshausen, Germany. In a landmark report, scientists have endorsed three strategies for preventing dementia and cognitive decline associated with normal aging -- being physically active, engaging in cognitive training and controlling high blood pressure. This is the first time experts convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine have deemed scientific evidence strong enough to suggest that preventing dementia and age-related cognitive decline might be possible. Seven years ago, in a separate report issued by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, scientists said they couldn't recommend any interventions to forestall or slow cognitive deterioration because state-of-the-art science at that time didn't offer enough support. Now there's a considerably larger body of research to draw upon.
A five-minute scan could be used to spot people at risk of dementia before symptoms appear, researchers claim. Scientists used ultrasound scanners to look at blood vessels in the necks of more than 3,000 people and monitored them over the next 15 years. They found those with the most intense pulses went on to experience greater cognitive decline over the next decade than the other study participants. Researchers hope it may offer a new way to predict cognitive decline. An international team of experts, led by University College London (UCL), measured the intensity of the pulse travelling towards the brain in 3,191 people in 2002.
The number of factors that may be tied to an increased likelihood of dementia and other forms of cognitive impairment is continuing to grow. Handgrip strength -- a measure of how strongly someone can grip something and an indication of the health of their hands and arms -- may be another thing to add to the list. In a new study, researchers have concluded that poor grip strength may be an indicator of cognitive impairment, which can be a sign of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. Each 5 kilogram reduction in grip strength -- for reference, a 30-year-old man has a grip strength of about 40 kg on average -- was associated with an 18 percent greater chance of severe cognitive impairment, the study stated. The researchers concluded that doctors might consider looking at grip strength in assessments of cognitive function.