A new study published in the journal Neurology has reported that cardiovascular health and genes both play a contributing role in a person's risk of dementia. 1,211 participants were involved in the study that was a collaboration between Framingham Heart Study and Boston University.

Dr. Sudha Seshadri, the senior author of the study and professor of neurology in the Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio, said in a statement, "The connection between heart health and brain health becomes clearer with each finding."

Risks Associated With Onset of Dementia

Heart

Participants with a high genetic risk score based on common genetic variants, including having an allele called apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4, were at a 2.6-fold higher risk of developing dementia than subjects who had a low-risk score and did not carry the APOE ε4 allele.

Having favorable cardiovascular health, as defined by an index of the American Heart Association, was associated with a 0.45-fold lower risk of dementia compared to having unfavorable cardiovascular health, the study also showed.

Importance of Healthy Habits in Reducing Dementia Risk

Dr. Seshadri, who is also the founding director of Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer's and Neurodegenerative Diseases, added, "We hope that the results of this study will send the public a message, and that message is to exercise, reduce stress and eat a healthy diet," Dr. Seshadri said. "Then, regardless of your genes, you have the potential to lower your risk of dementia."

"It is imperative to start today," said Dr. Claudia Satizabal, co-author of the study, and assistant professor of population health sciences and Biggs Institute investigator. "It seems, from our findings, that having favorable cardiovascular health mitigates the risk of dementia in persons with high genetic risk," she concluded.

(With inputs from agencies)