Intended for healthcare professionals


Healthy lifestyles and more life years without dementia

BMJ 2022; 377 doi: (Published 13 April 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;377:o885
  1. HwaJung Choi, research assistant professor
  1. Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Michigan, MI, USA
  2. Department of Health Management and Policy, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, MI, USA
  1. hwajungc{at}

A finding with important implications for people, policies, and health systems

The number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is expected to treble worldwide in a few decades, from an estimated 57 million in 2019 to 152 million in 2050.1 In the United States, more than one in nine people aged 65 and older had dementia in 2021.2 Plainly, reducing the incidence and prevalence of dementia is an urgent public health imperative for sustainable long term care systems.

A healthy lifestyle—adequate exercise, cognitive engagement, and a healthy diet—may reduce the risk of dementia considerably34 and extend life expectancy.5 Less well known, though, is the potential impact of a healthy lifestyle on the number of years spent living with dementia. Older age is strongly associated with a higher risk of dementia, so although a healthier lifestyle may delay the onset of dementia, it might also increase the number of years …

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