Dementia trial aims to see if disease can be held off with lifestyle changes
A dementia expert sees a future where medication and lifestyle changes will become potent ways to preserve the brain the same way cholesterol is managed to protect the heart.
Professor Ralph Martins from Macquarie University is heading a new trial to help prevent dementia, recruiting 600 volunteers.
Most dementia trials involve medications to stop the disease from taking hold.
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This one is all about boosting health to prevent or slow memory loss.
"We have over 400,000 people in Australia with dementia and the rate it's going, it's going to be more than double in the next 25 years," Martins said.
"We're looking at recruiting 600 people into this study, from 60 to 79 years of age, we'd love to change those age groups in time."
Tracy, 60, is one of the first to be enrolled.
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Her main motivation is her own mother's slow decline with dementia.
"There'd be times she'd ring me up from the shopping centre where she'd go every day and say 'I don't know where I am, I'm lost'," she said.
Tracy wants to do all she can to reduce her risk of being diagnosed.
Volunteers in the active group will undergo brain training four times a week.
Exercise physiologists and dietitians will help boost fitness and nutrition.
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Volunteers will go on a meal plan called MIND, which is a mix of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet and can be used to lower blood pressure.
It follows the work of colleagues from Finland which showed a lifestyle program after two years helps protect the brains of older people at risk of dementia.
That showed a significant effect on lowering cognitive decline, Martins said.
Blood tests will be a pivotal way of measuring outcomes.
While the team has funding for two years, the aim is to track volunteers over five years. Australia is one of 60 countries taking part.
For more information on the trial contact Macquarie University.
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