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Can crosswords and exercise ward off dementia?

05 January 2015 09:28

Playing chess may help combat dementia

Playing chess may help combat dementia

Challenging the brain with crosswords, working out and eating healthily may help the middle-aged stave off dementia in later life, new research suggests.

The study claims making such lifestyle changes earlier in life could prevent over 80,000 cases of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia each year.

Evidence suggests the brain may begin deteriorating when people are in their late 40s, making it even more important to take action early.

The study's findings are set to be presented in February at the World Innovation Summit for Health in Qatar.

The summit is to be chaired by Lord Darzi, the former Labour health minister. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he says dementia is one of the biggest health challenges facing people around the world.

But he says there are simple steps people can take to reduce their risk. They include stimulating the brain by taking on puzzles, playing chess or doing a newspaper crossword every day.

Lord Darzi adds that what's good for the heart is also good for the brain, meaning that avoiding obesity, eating healthily and taking regular exercise can also play a role.

The study suggests that more than 65,000 cases of dementia could be prevented each year by making simple lifestyle changes in middle-age that reduce blood pressure and the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

They, along with Alzheimer's, can be accommodated by travel insurance policies that cover people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Lord Darzi has described the study as a significant breakthrough as it suggests people can take action to combat dementia and its effects.

The study suggests more than a third of the 80,000 preventable cases of dementia each year may be triggered by Type 2 diabetes - with half of them contributed to by high blood pressure.

The Alzheimer's Society estimates that around 850,000 people in Britain will have dementia in 2015.