Brain may start decline at age 45
Cognitive function may begin deteriorating earlier than previously believed
Memory, reasoning and comprehension skills can start to decline at age 45, research published Thursday suggests.
The findings go against previous research that had found cognitive decline starts after age 60 — and highlight the importance of a healthy lifestyle in protecting the brain from dementia, researchers say.
For the study, 5,198 men and 2,192 women aged 45 to 70 were tracked over a 10-year period beginning in 1997 for signs of cognitive decline. Cognitive memory, aural and visual skills and vocabulary were assessed — and participants experienced declines in all areas except vocabulary. Study participants, who were all civil servants, were tested three times during the 10-year period. Educational backgrounds were taken into consideration.
Men aged 65 to 70 had a mental decline of 9.6 per cent, while women in the same age group had a 7.4 per cent drop.
The researchers said that good cardiovascular health achieved through sensible eating, a healthy body weight and normal blood pressure can help prevent dementia and rapid cognitive decline. They emphasize the value of a healthy lifestyle at a younger age, given the study's findings.
The study was published Thursday in The British Medical Journal.