Preventive health care

Alzheimer study about the importance of positive lifestyle changes published in Scientific American

Linnaeus University’s Krister Håkansson has together with Miia Kivipelto, Karolinska Institutet, written an article that has been published in the April issue of the popular science magazine Scientific American. The name of the article is “A rare success against Alzheimers”.

The article is based on a study in which it was investigated with the help of an experimental method how the combination of a healthy diet, blood pressure control, exercise, intellectual exercise and an active social life can slow down the development of Alzheimers.

During a two-year period, the study has followed a group of older people who were in the risk category of getting Alzheimers. There was one experimental group and one control group. The experimental group got help implementing a real lifestyle change, while the control group was just given regular health advice.

"We have come up with very uplifting results. For the first time ever, a study has shown that a combination of measures for older people in the risk category can improve their health and cognitive ability", says Krister Håkansson.

"Now we are discussing how to carry out a follow-up of this study. There are many exciting threads to unravel", Håkansson continues.

For instance, the study showed that there were large individual differences within both groups regarding how much their cognitive ability was affected in the two years during which the study was going on.

"It would be interesting to find out what the reasons are for these differences. We would also like to return to the participants in a couple of years to see how they are doing then. Will there, for instance, be a difference between the groups concerning how many have been struck by dementia?", Håkansson continues.

The cost for Alzheimer care in Sweden is roughly as big as the combined costs for all cancer and cardiovascular diseases in the country.

"If lifestyle changes can improve the quality for elderly and perhaps postpone a diagnosis, there is a lot to be gained, both for the individual in question and for society as a whole", says Håkansson.

It is important that doctors become aware of these results, Håkansson explains. Doctors must to a larger extent discuss lifestyle with their patients.

"It makes you think, really. I have started going to the gym, and also drink coffee now, which I did not do before. From this aspect it can also be good to drink red wine to to your dinner a couple of times a week", Håkansson concludes.

More information

Read the full article "A rare success against Alzheimer's" in Scientific American:
At the moment, the article is locked but can be unlocked at a cost of 6.99 USD.


Krister Håkansson, author of the article and doctor of medicine, phone:
+4673-708 07 68
Annika Sand, senior press officer, phone: +4676-830 01 05.