Health A-Z

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Most of the causes of dementia cannot be prevented. Good personal health habits and medical care, however, can prevent some types of dementia. Here are some things you can do:

  • Dementia caused by Alzheimer's disease and stroke Many of the same practices that reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke also reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease. Monitor and control your blood pressure and cholesterol, exercise every day, and eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables to maintain a healthy body weight, try to maintain a healthy weight, avoid tobacco.

  • Alcohol-related dementia Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.

  • Traumatic dementia Avoid head injury by always using seat belts, helmets and other protective equipment.

  • Some infection-related dementias Avoid high-risk sexual behavior.

  • Vitamin-deficiency dementia Make sure your diet has enough B vitamins, especially vitamin B12. Your doctor may want to order a blood test for B12 level.

  • Hormone-related dementia Your doctor may want to order a blood test called TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) to make sure your thyroid is functioning properly.

Keeping your mind active and your body fit may help to prevent mental decline and reduce or postpone memory loss. If you get daily physical exercise and continue to challenge your brain throughout life, you can help to protect your brain against mental decline.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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