In the Journals

Dietary changes, physical activity, cognitive training prevent cognitive impairment in older patients

Multiple interventions such as healthy eating habits, exercise and web-based cognitive training may prevent or postpone cognitive decline among older patients, according to data published in The Lancet.

“Much previous research has shown that there are links between cognitive decline in older people and factors such as diet, heart health and fitness. However, our study is the first large randomized controlled trial to show that an intensive program aimed at addressing these risk factors might be able to prevent cognitive decline in elderly people who are at risk of dementia,” Miia Kivipelto, PhD, professor of Clinical Geriatric Epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet and a senior geriatrician at the Karolinska University Hospital, said in a press release.

The 2-year, population-based, randomized Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER) included 1,260 patients aged 60 to 77 years (mean age, 69.3 years) who were randomly assigned to a multi-domain intervention (n = 631) or regular health advice group (n = 629). The intervention group was administered nutritional recommendations, physical exercise training programs, and cognitive training in both group and individual settings.

Two-year data indicate the mean change in neuropsychological test battery Z score was 0.20 in the intervention group, and 0.16 in the control group; the between-group difference in the change of Z score per year was 0.022 (P=.03), according to data. Moreover, the improvement in the total score after 24 months was 25% higher in the intervention group, researchers wrote.

They also reported a significant intervention effect for the cognitive outcomes of executive functioning and processing speed.

“Improvement in executive functioning was 83% higher, and in processing speed 150% higher, in the intervention group than in the control group,” researchers wrote.

Other outcomes, including BMI, dietary habits and physical activity improved with interventions. The most common adverse event was musculoskeletal pain for those in the intervention group.

According to researchers, a 7-year extended follow-up study will be conducted to determine the intervention effects on the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. – by Samantha Costa

Disclosure: Ngandu reports personal grants from the Swedish Society for Medical Research. Please see the full study for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.