May 14 (UPI) -- Living a healthy lifestyle may help stave off a person's likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease and other cognitive impairments later in life, according to research and recommendations from global experts.
To reduce the risk of dementia and cognitive decline, new guidelines released by the World Health Organization recommend people eliminate risk factors that bring on the deadly disease.
"In the next 30 years, the number of people with dementia is expected to triple," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general at WHO, said in a press release. "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, that what is good for our heart, is also good for our brain."
The recommendations call for people to exercise regularly and eat healthy, as well as maintain healthy blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol numbers. They also include drinking alcohol at moderate levels and cutting smoking altogether.
The guidelines were created to inform healthcare providers on how to help patients avoid cognitive decline and dementia. They can also guide policymakers and other authorities on how to develop programs and strategies that move people to live healthier lifestyles.
The effort is a part of the agency's Global action plan, which was designed to reduce dementia outcomes around the globe between 2017 and 2025.
The plan is designed to combat dementia by raising awareness, lowering risk, improving diagnosis, providing resources for caregivers and enhancing research and development efforts to fight the disease.
Since WHO launched its Global Dementia Observatory in 2017, it has gathered data from 80 countries about their dementia resources, awareness programs and treatment initiatives.
And last year, WHO helped create dementia response plans for Bosnia, Croatia, Qatar, Slovenia, Sri Lanka and other countries.
Dementia has afflicted roughly 50 million people around the world, with about 10 million new new diagnoses each year. The disease causes disability and places a costly heath care burden on countries -- by 2030, dementia cost are expected to reach $2 billion each year.