Warning about middle-aged drinking and dementia

Behind the Headlines

Wednesday October 21 2015

What is good for the heart tends also to be good for the brain, and can reduce dementia risk

Drinking in middle age could have an impact as you age

"Middle-aged people should curb their drinking to reduce their risk of developing dementia, new guidance suggests," reports the Daily Mirror.

The new guidance highlights that people aged 40 to 64 who regularly drink alcohol have an increased risk of dementia. 

Who produced the guidance?

The guidance was produced by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). NICE is a government body that provides national guidance and advice to improve health and social care. 

What issues does the guidance look at?

The guidance is based on the well-established principle that positive lifestyle changes that people make when they are middle aged are more likely to persist into later life.

This could help prevent conditions associated with ageing, such as dementia, as well as disability and frailty, including conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis.

Positive changes a person makes when they are 40 could pay dividends once they reach the age of 70, making a vast improvement to their quality of life. 

What are the main recommendations?

While the media has focused on the recommendations about alcohol consumption, the guidance actually considers a range of lifestyle changes.

The five core recommendations are:

What practical steps can you take to improve health in middle age?

If you haven't done so already, a good first step is to arrange an NHS Health Check with your GP. This is a free health "MOT" for people aged 40 to 78.

The Health Check involves a range of simple tests, such as blood cholesterol and pressure tests, designed to assess your risk of developing a number of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, dementiaheart disease and stroke.

Once you've had your NHS Health Check, a healthcare professional will discuss your results with you. You'll be given advice and support to help lower your risk of certain conditions and maintain or improve your vascular health.

But you don't have to wait until your NHS Health Check appointment to make healthy changes: start now by using these suggested health apps and trackers. Your GP can also give you advice on stop smoking and weight loss programmes in your local area.

And if you are having problems controlling your drinking, you can asked to be referred to an appropriate alcohol misuse service or counselling.

To make more positive changes to your lifestyle, get tips and ideas on healthy living in the Live Well section of NHS Choices.  

Analysis by Bazian. Edited by NHS Choices. Follow NHS Choices on TwitterJoin the Healthy Evidence forum.

Edited by NHS Choices


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Media last reviewed: 17/06/2015

Next review due: 17/06/2017

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