Boston – A new study by a group of scientist from Boston University School of Medicine published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine seems to have found prove that education may lower the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, as well as heart disease.

Researchers analyzed 5205 people ranging from 60 years of age to more who had participated in the Framingham Heart Study, a four decades investigation that has been studying incident dementia since 1975.

Photo: The Telegraph UK
Photo: The Telegraph UK

Scientist used Cox proportional-hazards models adjusted for age and sex to determine the 5-year incidence of dementia during each of four periods. They also explored the interactions between period and age, sex, and educational level, and examined the effects of these interactions, as well as the effects of vascular risk factors and cardiovascular disease, on temporal trends.

They found that the incidence of dementia declined about 20% per decade starting in the 1970s but only in people who had at least a high school education. The decline in people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s wasn’t statistically significant, but there were fewer people with Alzheimer’s, which could have affected that result.

The study also looked at risk factors for heart disease and stroke, including smoking, obesity and high blood pressure. They found that the people who had better markers for cardiovascular health, such as normal blood pressure, were also less likely to develop dementia.

“That’s telling us that perhaps better management of cardiovascular disease could potentially help in the reduction of dementia,” says Claudia Satizabal, an author of the study and an instructor in neurology at the Boston University School of Medicine.

Dr. Sudha Seshadri, professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine, Framingham Heart Study senior investigator, and co-author of the study said that the results from their investigation suggest there may be ways to lower the risk of dementia while there are no treatments to prevent or cure the illness.

However, there might be some factors about the study that yet have to be further analize. For instance, the research was conducted on white and suburban participants, so results may not apply to all races and ethnicities.

Another question mark is whether obesity and diabetes, which increase dementia risk, will cause a surge in dementia cases when people around 40 or 50 years old suffering from these diseases become old enough to develop dementia.

Even though the race card has yet to be determinate, a recent study showed a similar trend among African-Americans in Indianapolis. This finding also suggested that new cases of dementia declined from 1992 to 2001 and that the participants from 2011 had more education, so studying does have something to do.

Source:  New England Journal of Medicine