JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Researchers with the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) found that people who followed certain health guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA) in midlife had lower rates of dementia decades later.

The study found that people who adhered to AHA’s Life’s Simple 7 (LS7) guidelines had lower rates of dementia. A report found that about 40%of the world’s late-onset dementia cases can be tied to 12 modifiable risk factors. Seven of them come from the LS7, including:

  • Manage blood pressure
  • Control cholesterol
  • Reduce blood sugar
  • Get active
  • Eat better
  • Lose weight
  • Stop smoking

Researchers wanted to know if the effects of the seven factors could also be observed in those with high genetic risk.

Researchers looked at participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. They included 8,823 people with European ancestry and 2,738 people with African American ancestry, who the researchers followed for a median of 26 years.

Researchers assigned each participant a midlife LS7 score ranging from 0 to 14 based on data collected at the beginning of the study in the late 1980s. They also calculated a genetic risk score, or GRS, for Alzheimer’s disease for each participant.

Finally, they noted which participants developed any form of dementia during the course of the study.

Researchers found that among participants with European ancestry, people with medium and high LS7 scores had 30% and 43% lower risk of dementia compared to those with low LS7 scores. Among participants with African American ancestry, medium and high LS7 groups had 6% and 17% lower risk than the low LS7 group.

Within each GRS level, researchers found that higher LS7 scores were associated with lower dementia risk. Generally, each point higher in LS7 scores was associated with a 10% decrease in dementia risk.

“Our findings reinforce the idea that late-onset Alzheimer’s and dementia are due to a combination of modifiable health and genetic factors. Health professionals and individuals can follow the guidance from Life’s Simple 7 to lower the risk of dementia,” Tin, a researcher with The Memory Impairment and Neurodegenerative Dementia (MIND) Center.