Enhanced lifestyle counselling could prevent cognitive decline in people who are genetically predisposed to develop Alzheimer’s disease, finds new study.
The research, which was published in the latest issue of JAMA Neurology, found that enhanced lifestyle counselling could prevent cognitive decline in individuals carrying mutations in the APOE4; a high risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
Enhanced lifestyle counselling involved advice on nutrition, physical and memory and cognitive exercises as well as support to treat and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
The study lasted two years and was called the FINGER trial. Participants included 1,109 Finnish patients aged between 60 and 77 years of age, 362 of whom carried the high-risk APOE4 allele.
Participants were split into two groups; one group received regular lifestyle counseling whilst the other received enhanced lifestyle counselling.
The researchers found that cognitive and functional impairment was higher among regular lifestyle counseling group compared to the enhanced counseling group.
The first part of the study, which demonstrated the benefits of enhanced counseling among the elderly was published in June 2015 in The Lancet.
The team then compared the effects of enhanced lifestyle counselling on the group carrying the APOE4 gene. They noted that enhanced lifestyle counseling still prevented cognitive decline. In fact, they think that intervention with enhanced counseling might had even greater benefits for the genetically predisposed individuals.
Many people worry that genetic risk factors for dementia may thwart potential benefits from healthy lifestyle changes. We were very happy to see that this was not the case in our intervention, which was started early, before the onset of substantial cognitive impairment”
Professor Alina Solomon, Lead Author and Associate Professor in the Department of Neurology at the University of Kuopio, Finland
She added that if these interventions and lifestyle changes could be started before the cognitive decline began, it could prevent the substantial decline in cognitive function associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Professor Miia Kivipelto, the principal investigator of the FINGER trial said that this trial module is being adapted and being tested on a global population now under the “World Wide FINGERS initiative”.
She concluded that if the study could be applied to more diverse populations with different ethnicities, the findings would be more robust.
Experts say that this could be a preventive method for reducing the incidence and progression of cognitive decline.