More than 747,000 people in Canada are living with some form of dementia, with the numbers continuing to grow as the baby boom population grows older. Yet today, the individual risk of developing dementia is half of what it was only forty years ago.
Physicians suspect that this decrease can be attributed to factors such as an overall increase in the population’s wealth and education, as well as better control over risk factors such as smoking less, and using medications to control blood pressure. Some believe this is because high blood pressure can damage small blood vessels in the brain, affecting parts of the brain responsible for thinking and memory.
Dr. Barry Goldlist, Geriatrician at Sinai Health System and UHN, explained the correlation at this month’s Healthy Ageing 101 Lunch & Learn session, at Mount Sinai Hospital. “We see dementia as a disease of old age, but in fact, so much of it is rooted in our behaviour when we’re young,” he said. “If we treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and avoid smoking in our early and mid-life years, it can go a long way towards decreasing our risk of developing dementia in our senior years,” said Dr. Goldlist.
Dr. Goldlist recommends the following lifestyle tips to lower your risk.