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Study shows lifestyle intervention provides cognitive benefits for people at risk of dementia

July 16, 2014 – Positive results presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2014 (AAIC 2014) in Copenhagen include data from a two-year clinical trial in Finland of a multi-component lifestyle intervention, known as the Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER Study).


July 16, 2014
By Massage Therapy Canada staff

Topics

The study with 1,260 older adults at risk for cognitive impairment and
Alzheimer’s showed that physical activity, nutritional guidance,
cognitive training, social activities and management of heart health
risk factors improved cognitive performance, both overall and in
separate measures of executive function, such as planning abilities, and
the relationship between cognitive functions and physical movement.

“AAIC
is the premiere Alzheimer’s and dementia research conference, and this
year’s topics are exciting both in their scope and findings,” said Keith
Fargo, Alzheimer’s Association director of scientific programs and
outreach. “Regarding the FINGER Study, researchers have previously
observed a number of modifiable factors associated with increased risk
of late-life cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s, but short-term
studies focusing on single, isolated risk factors have had modest
results, at best. Longer, larger, better-controlled trials looking at
modifying multiple risk factors – like the FINGER Study – have been
needed. This new data is very encouraging, and we look forward to
further studies to confirm and extend these findings.”

At AAIC
2014, Dr. Miia Kivipelto, professor at the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
and the National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland,
and her colleagues reported on the results of the FINGER Study, a
two-year randomized controlled trial of 1,260 participants age 60 to 77
with modifiable risk factors for cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s.
Randomized controlled clinical trials are considered the “gold standard”
for demonstrating treatment efficacy and safety.

Participants
were divided into two groups; one received an intervention that included
nutritional guidance, physical exercise, cognitive training, social
activities, and management of heart health risk factors, while the
control group received regular health advice. After two years, the
intervention group performed significantly better on a comprehensive
cognitive examination. In addition to performing better overall, the
intervention group did significantly better on specific tests of memory,
executive function (complex aspects of thought such as planning,
judgment and problem-solving) and speed of cognitive processing.

“This
is the first randomized control trial showing that it is possible to
prevent cognitive decline using a multi-domain intervention among older
at-risk individuals. These results highlight the value of addressing
multiple risk factors in improving performance in several cognitive
domains,” said Kivipelto. “Participants told us their experience was
very positive, and dropout rate only 11 per cent after two years.”

The
researchers say an extended, seven-year follow-up study is planned, and
will include measures of dementia/Alzheimer’s incidence and biomarkers
including brain imaging with MRI and PET.

The Alzheimer’s
Association International Conference is the world’s largest gathering of
leading researchers from around the world focused on Alzheimer’s and
other dementias.

The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s
leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and
research. Its mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the
advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all
affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of
brain health.

 


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