What can help you stay sharp, no matter your genetic risk

A healthy lifestyle may lower your risk of dementia, even if your genes put you at higher risk.

Researchers estimated genetic risks for dementia in 8,823 Americans of European ancestry and 2,738 Americans of African ancestry. They also calculated each person’s “Life’s Simple 7” score based on their blood cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, exercise, diet, smoking, and weight.

Among European Americans at highest genetic risk, those with the highest Simple 7 scores were 34 percent less likely to be diagnosed with dementia over 26 years than those with the lowest scores. High scores also seemed to protect African Americans, but the smaller sample size likely made the results unclear.

What to do 

This kind of study can’t prove that a healthy lifestyle can protect your mind. But Life’s Simple 7 can protect your heart. For more, go to the American Heart Association’s website.

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