The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued new guidelines to tackle an “imminent increase” in cognitive decline and dementia risk.

Dementia is a persistent impairment of mental process marked by memory disorder, personality changes, and impaired reasoning. This age-related decline in mental ability can be so severe to the extent that it leads to memory loss and interference of ones’ daily life.

It also affects thinking, orientation, comprehension, calculation, learning capacity, language and judgement and results from a variety of diseases and injuries that affect the brain, such as Alzheimer’s or stroke.

According to the new guidelines issued by WHO on May 14, people can reduce their risk of dementia through regular exercise; not smoking; avoiding excessive alcohol; weight control, healthy diet; and healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels.

“The number of people with dementia is expected to triple in the next 30 years, ” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, doctor and director-general of the WHO.

“We need to do everything we can to reduce our risk of dementia. The scientific evidence gathered for these guidelines confirms what we have suspected for some time: What is good for our heart is also good for our brain.”

Dementia is a rapidly growing public health problem that affects around 50 million people globally, according to the WHO, with nearly 10 million new cases coming up every year.

Although the guideline is intended as a knowledge base for experts in the fight against cognitive decline and dementia, the WHO said it would also be of great use to policy-makers in designing programmes that encourage healthy lifestyles.



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