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Here is How You Can Stave off Dementia: WHO Issues Guidelines

According to the WHO report, about 50 million people currently have dementia, and Alzheimer's disease is the most common type.

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Updated:May 21, 2019, 3:50 PM IST
Here is How You Can Stave off Dementia: WHO Issues Guidelines
Nearly 50 million people around the world suffer from dementia and Alzheimer's according to the latest estimates. (Photo courtesy: AFP Relaxnews/ Dmitry Berkut/ Istock.com)

The World Health Organization on Tuesday reported that each year 10 million new cases of Dementia are reported. Although age is the top risk factor, "dementia is not a natural or inevitable consequence of ageing," the report said.

According to the WHO report, about 50 million people currently have dementia, and Alzheimer's disease is the most common type. The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday also issued its first-ever guidelines for reducing the risk of dementia with the syndrome associated with an ongoing decline of brain functioning set to soar.

By 2050, it is estimated that the number of people living with dementia is likely to increase from approximately 50 million today to 152 million across the world.

“In the next 30 years, the number of people with dementia is expected to triple,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We need to do everything we can to reduce our risk of dementia. The scientific evidence gathered for these Guidelines confirms what we have suspected for some time, that what is good for our heart, is also good for our brain.”

There is no effective treatment for dementia, but WHO says there are steps a person can take to delay or slow the onset and progression of the disease.

That includes getting enough exercise; treating other health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol; having an active social life, and avoiding or curbing harmful habits such as smoking, overeating and drinking too much alcohol.

What is Dementia?

According to WHO, "Dementia is an illness characterized by a deterioration in cognitive function beyond what might be expected from normal ageing. It affects memory, thinking, orientation, and comprehension, calculation, learning capacity, language and judgement. Dementia results from a variety of diseases and injuries that affect the brain, such as Alzheimer disease or stroke."

Here are WHO guidelines for reducing the risk of cognitive decline and dementia

Eating healthy

*Maintaining a healthy weight

*Avoiding harmful use of alcohol

*Not smoking

*Getting regular exercise

*Maintaining healthy blood pressure

*Keeping cholesterol and blood sugar levels in check

Reducing risk factors for dementia is one of several areas of action included in WHO’s Global action plan for the public health response to dementia. The WHO guidelines also suggest that cognitive training can help stimulate the brain, which may help ward off dementia.

However, WHO has admitted that there is not enough scientific that increased social activity may reduce the risk of developing dementia. They further added that there's not enough evidence to recommend antidepressants to reduce dementia risk. Furthermore, hearing aids also may not reduce dementia risk in older adults.

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