Rich? Educated? You’ve a better memory when old

February 21st, 2008 - 12:20 pm ICT by admin  

New York, Feb 21 (IANS) Memory loss and thinking problems are now less common among the elderly, especially those who are educated and well off, according to a new exhaustive study of 11,000 people. The US study shows a declining trend in the rate of cognitive impairment, which covers everything from memory loss to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, among people aged 70 or more.

The prevalence of cognitive impairment in this age group went down from 12.2 percent to 8.7 percent between 1993 and 2002.

Although the reasons are not yet fully known, authors of the study said older people today are more likely to be better educated, with higher paying jobs and better management of risk factors like hypertension, high cholesterol and smoking.

Although more educated seniors with cognitive impairment were more likely to die within two years, researchers attribute it to their ability to sustain more insults to their brain.

A team led by two University of Michigan Medical School physicians carried out the study, published in the online edition of the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

Co-author Kenneth Langa described the findings as good news for seniors. He said the new data support recent theories of how brains can be protected and preserved.

“What we may be seeing here is the accumulated effects of better education and better cardiovascular prevention among the people who were over age 70 in 2002, compared with those who were over age 70 in 1993,” said Langa.

Besides, the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs, blood pressure medications and other preventive cardiovascular medications and strategies increased dramatically in the 1990s.

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