Dementia is an age-related disease affecting your brain. It is not a specific disease, but an overall term to describe a group of symptoms. These symptoms mostly indicate a decline in memory and other thinking skills.
Sometimes, the symptoms of dementia are so severe that they may hinder your ability to perform everyday activities.
As per an analysis, over 4.7 million people of 65 years or more in the U.S. have dementia
Dementia can manifest itself in the form of the following symptoms:
- Recent memory loss
- Difficulty in the completion of familiar tasks such as cooking a meal
- Difficulty in choosing the right language
- Forgetting simplest words
- Using the wrong vocabulary
- Problems with abstract thinking
- Misplacing things and forgetting their locations every day
- Sudden changes in mood, disposition, or outlook
- Loss of initiative
- Changes in personality such as increased irritability or suspicion
The disease is age-related and there is no way to stop it once it begins. But can you reduce its risk?
A recent study conducted by the scientists in Seoul National University Hospital think so.
The study indicates smoking as one of the major risk factors for dementia. This means that by controlling smoking, you can reduce the risk of this disease.
The researchers took into account more than 46,00 men for this study. All of these men were 60 years old or more. The study observed all the participants from 2006 to 2013.
Scientists found that men who were non-smokers had a low risk of developing dementia. The same was true for those who quit smoking a long time ago.
As compared to current smokers, men who had never smoked were 19 percent less likely to experience dementia. At the same time, their chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease was 18 percent less.
The participants who quit smoking 4 years ago were at a 14 percent less risk of developing dementia. At the same time, there were 15 percent less likely to experience Alzheimer’s disease.
These results add to the growing body of research according to which smoking affects your brain.
What do Past Studies Suggest?
The scientists agree that smoking can impact the brain health. They also seem to agree that it can lead to dementia and cognitive decline. A lot of studies carried out previously tend to support these findings.
For instance, a meta-analysis of 19 different studies is in favor of the current results. It suggested that people who never smoked are less likely to suffer from dementia.
In a similar way, past studies also indicate that quitting smoking can reduce this risk. People who stop smoking at the right time actually save themselves from a cognitive decline in later stages of life.
According to the scientists, this study underscores the message that smoking can affect your brain. The effects can even go long-term and cause problems related to memory.
The Connection between Heart Health and Brain Health
In 2016, almost 17 percent of the men in the United States were smokers as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC ratio for female smokers for the same year was around 13 percent.
Smoking is previously linked to certain types of cancer. Numerous diseases of the heart, lungs, and other body parts are also due to smoking.
While more research is essential, the negative effects of smoking on heart and blood vessels may be of importance. This connection can also help provide justification for the link between smoking and dementia.
Experts say that they are able to visualize a possible link between the health of heart and brain.
The human heart is responsible for circulating blood throughout the whole body. The brain utilizes 20 to 25% of this blood and the nutrients dissolved in it to carry out its functions.
Smoking can damage and tighten the blood vessels in your body. This may even restrict the flow of blood towards the brain. With less blood reaching the brain, a deprivation of oxygen and nutrients occur.
Smoking can also raise the risk of blood clots in the brain. This may lead to stroke and, later on, a type of dementia called as vascular dementia.
Lastly, tobacco that is usually present in cigarettes can impose oxidative stress. An increased oxidative stress in your body ultimately damages brain tissue.
Healthy Lifestyle Changes
There is a sufficient amount of evidence to link smoking with dementia. So, it is a wise step to modify your life accordingly, especially if you are a smoker.
As per the Alzheimer’s Association, avoiding tobacco smoking is an important step to reduce dementia risk. This is even true for the later stages of your life.
If you are not a smoker yet, it is better to avoid it altogether for your brain health. If you are a smoker, quitting right away can decrease your risk significantly.
It is equally important to get sufficient sleep and eat a nutritious diet. Don’t forget to socialize with others and be active, both mentally and physically.
Studies show that people who keep learning new things usually have a better mental health. These things can be anything- taking a class at a local college or learning ballroom dancing.
Being active physically is also great for boosting your brain health. Inactivity, on the other hand, seems to increase the risk of cognitive decline in later life.
If you are smoking at the moment and wish to quit, get help. Schedule an appointment with a doctor to discuss the methods for quitting.
The doctor may recommend taking OTC or prescription medicines to reduce nicotine cravings. Sometimes, they may ask you to join a group or telephone counseling to manage the quitting process.
Whichever method you wish to join, be sure to quit smoking as soon as possible. This is for your own health and of the ones around you!