Our brains tend to shrink as we age. This can’t be entirely prevented. However, there are a few things that clearly affect brain atrophy.
A new study at the University of California at Davis made new headway in determining the factors that affected brain degeneration. The study concluded that individuals who made certain life decisions or suffered from medical conditions were more likely to suffer from degeneration. The study concluded that individuals most at risk of suffering from atrophy were those who smoked, suffered from diabetes, had high blood pressure or were overweight.
Individuals with any of these health complications in midlife were more likely to develop dementia later on in life. The study revealed that individuals with hypertension in their fifties could experience dementia in less than a decade. Many physicians have not taken the impact of hypertension as seriously as they should. Many have taken the position that they should watch a patient’s blood pressure if it seems too high. Dr.Â Charles DeCarli of UC Davis says these attitudes can have seriousÂ repercussionsÂ to patients down the road.
The Davis study included over 1300 adult subjects. The results showed that every part of the brain changed with age. Although these factors were inevitable, the study emphasizes the need for patients to make major life changes to reduce the rate of degeneration.
Many of the findings did not come as a total surprise. The biggest surprise was that the effects of brain degeneration started at a much earlier age than originally thought. Although these findings were concerning to researchers, they shed light on what needs to be done to fight brain atrophy and possible dementia.
Unfortunately, the study is only the first of its kind. Much more research needs to be done to understand the effects of many health problems and the effect they have on patients’ brains. For example, the study offered limited insight into the effect diabetes has on brain degeneration. This is largely because only a small number of the participants had diabetes in the study.