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Nurses should advise patients on lifestyle risk factors for dementia

Friday 21st July 2017
Nine lifestyle factors have been identified as increasing the chance of dementia, which nurses could advise their patients to change to reduce their risk. Image: shironosov via iStock
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    Nurses can play a valuable role in advising patients of small changes they could make to their lifestyles in order to reduce their risk of developing dementia in later life, as a new report has linked nine lifestyle factors to the degenerative condition.

    According to a new international study published in the Lancet and presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in London, one in three cases of dementia could be prevented by people making simple changes to their lifestyle.

    Although 65 per cent of cases are currently thought to be non-modifiable, researchers have identified that more than one-third (35 per cent) could be prevented by individuals adopting new habits. But in order for this to be a success, nurses will need to make their patients aware of the lifestyle changes that could benefit them.

    The study found that the development of hearing loss in midlife contributes to nine per cent of dementia cases, suggesting that avoiding prolonged exposure to loud noises could help to reduce this risk.

    Meanwhile, failure to complete secondary education was associated with eight per cent of dementia cases, five per cent of diagnoses were for people who smoked and four per cent affected people who had failed to seek early treatment for signs of depression.

    What's more, a lack of physical activity was associated with three per cent of cases, while social isolation was linked with two per cent, as was high blood pressure. Additionally, obesity and type 2 diabetes were both linked with one per cent of dementia diagnoses.

    With this in mind, UK nurses could play a key role in helping to reduce cases of dementia by informing patients of the risks that their lifestyle habits or pre-existing but reversible conditions could be presenting to their health.

    Professor Gill Livingston of University College London commented: "Although dementia is diagnosed in later life, the brain changes usually begin to develop years before.

    "Acting now will vastly improve life for people with dementia and their families and, in doing so, will transform the future of society."

    Written by James Puckle

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