People with high genetic risk of prefrontal lobe dementia (FTD) may be able to reduce the severity and progression of the disease by changing some lifestyle, a new study suggests. The researchers found that people who kept their thinking and body active had much better results than other patients. The new study, from the University of California, San Francisco, analyzed lifestyle differences between more than 100 people with the dominant genetic mutation that causes the disease, which usually begins between the ages of 45 and 65. It is well known that this type of dementia can lead to a rapid decline in cognitive ability, which usually leads to death within a decade.
Unfortunately, there is no cure or even an end to the disease. However, the new study found that certain lifestyle factors are very effective in slowing the progression of the disease and reducing its severity. Participants in the study were either in the early stages of the disease, with only mild or no symptoms. The researchers used MRI scans to determine the extent of brain degeneration experienced by these participants as a result of dementia; they also took tests on memory and thinking. Finally, participants provided detailed information about daily physical activities such as running and mental activities.
The researchers observed a significant difference in the severity and speed of disease progression in patients with the least amount of physical activity and mental activity compared to those with the least amount of exercise and mental activity.
According to the study, 25 percent of the most active participants had a 55 percent slower progression from the disease, compared with only 5 percent of the least active patients. Although this activity did not prevent brain degradation, active participants performed better than they did.
The researchers note that more research is needed to determine whether this link indicates that physical activity slows down progress, not otherwise. For example, less active participants may develop more aggressive diseases that affect their activity levels.