Couch Potatoes Has The Same Risk Level Of Dementia As Those With Genetic Risk Factors [STUDY]

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Jan 11, 2017 09:30 AM EST

A great number of senior Citzens struggle with various forms of dementia at Villa Albrecht. (Photo : Getty Images/Carsten Koall)

A study suggests that sedentary older adults who do not have genetic risk factors for dementia may just be as likely to develop the disease as those who are genetically predisposed.

This means that even without any genetic risk factors, old people who do not exercise regularly are most likely to develop the disease. The findings shed light on the relationship between genes, lifestyle risk factors and dementia.

Although, 47.5 million people worldwide are living with dementia which is set to increase to 115.4 million by 2050 due to the rapid aging population, experts warn that physical inactivity could further increase this figures.  

The researchers monitored the participants and found that, although, the carriers of a variant of the "apolipoprotein E" genotype have higher risk of developing dementia, inactivity increase the risk in people who do not carry gene.

"The important message here is that being inactive may completely negate the protective effects of a healthy set of genes," Jennifer Heisz, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University and co-author of the study says.

She added that given that most individuals are not at genetic risk, physical exercise may be an effective prevention strategy.

Alzheimer's disease mostly affects people who are 65 years and older and accounts for 60-70 percent of cases of dementia, according to Eurekalert.

Although, what causes Alzheimer's is still unknown, people with the APOE gene are more likely to develop late-onset Alzheimer's which is accompanied by symptoms such as difficulty remembering, disorientation, mood swings and behavioral changes, suspicion about family, friends and professional caregivers, More serious memory loss and difficulty with speaking, swallowing and walking.

The researchers found that the odds of developing dementia in people who have the gene were not significantly different between exercisers and non-exercisers.

The important message is that inactivity may completely diminish the protective effects of a healthy set of genes, study's co-author and assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University, Jennifer Heisz says.

Previous studies have shown that physical exercise may be able to prevent or slow down the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Researchers encourages exercise for at least 150 minutes or more every week, adding brain-boosting omega-3 fats to diet and also social engagement, according to Daily Mail.

Study's co-author and professor in the Department of Health Evidence and Impact at McMaster, Parminder Raina, said, although age is a key factor for dementia, there are more research showing the link between genetic and lifestyle factors.

The study found that exercise can reduce the risk of dementia in people who do not have the variant of apolipoprotein genotype. But further study is needed to better understand the implications from a public health perspective, Raina added.

However, researchers are comparing the possible benefits of high-intensity training (HIIT) with moderate continuous training (MCT) and stretching in older adults, in another separate ongoing study.

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