Weighing Impact of Social, Lifestyle Factors on Alzheimer Disease Risk: James E. Galvin, MD

The director of the Center for Brain Health at Miami University Miller School of Medicine discussed how much influence people have on lowering their Alzheimer disease risk.

"Low resilience, high vulnerability—you’re going to do the worst. Again, 40% of the attributable risk are things that we have some control over. It’s never too early, it’s never too late, but it’s probably better to be too early than too late."

The terms “prevention” and “risk reduction” are often used interchangeable in medicine when referring to clinical interventions that aim to delay or prevent the onset of a disease. For Alzheimer disease (AD), there has been growing evidence over the past decade that specific lifestyle factors and choices can play a significant role in the risk of this disease. Among them include dieting and exercising properly, lowering smoking and alcohol intake, and engagement in late-life cognitive activities that keep the mind active.

Another lesser-known controllable factor may be location and access to open greenspace. Recently published findings indicated that living in neighborhoods with more tree canopy is associated with lower episodic memory but higher executive function at baseline, slower annual declines in executive function, and fewer white matter hypointensities. Senior author of the study James E. Galvin, MD, MPH, feels as though there needs to be a balance of evaluating both vulnerability and resilience benefits.

In an interview with NeurologyLive, Galvin, director of the Comprehensive Center for Brain Health at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, outlined several lifestyle choices and social determinants of health. He broke down how each factor in achieving low vulnerability and high resilience.