TUESDAY, Feb. 6, 2024 (HealthDay News) — Among older adults, a healthier lifestyle is associated with better global cognitive functioning close to death, according to a study published online Feb. 5 in JAMA Neurology.

Klodian Dhana, M.D., Ph.D., from the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging in Chicago, and colleagues conducted a cohort study to examine the role of postmortem brain pathology in the association between lifestyle and cognition proximate to death using data from 586 deceased individuals. A healthy lifestyle score was developed based on self-reported factors; the score ranged from 0 to 5. The global cognitive score was based on a battery of 19 standardized tests.

The researchers observed an association for higher lifestyle score with better global functioning proximate to death. A 1-point increase in lifestyle score was associated with a 0.216-unit higher global cognitive score in the multivariable-adjusted model. When common dementia-related brain pathologies were included in the multivariable-adjusted models, neither the strength nor the significance of the association changed substantially. After controlling for the β-amyloid load, the β estimate was 0.191. There was an association seen for higher lifestyle score with lower β-amyloid load in the brain (β = −0.120); of the lifestyle-cognition association, 11.6 percent was estimated through β-amyloid load.

“A healthier lifestyle was associated with better cognitive function proximate to death independently of common neuropathologies of dementia, suggesting that lifestyle factors may provide cognitive reserve to maintain cognitive abilities in older adults,” the authors write.

One author disclosed ties to Eisai.

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