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Combo Physical, Mental Activity Prevents Cognitive Decline

Benefits seen were greater than for social interaction alone in older black population

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THURSDAY, Sept. 20, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Behavioral activation that increases mental, physical, and social activity may prevent cognitive and functional decline in older black patients, according to a study published online Sept. 10 in JAMA Neurology.

Barry W. Rovner, M.D., from the Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, used screening for memory complaints to identify 221 black patients (≥65 years) with amnestic mild cognitive impairment who were randomized to either behavioral activation (to increase cognitive, physical, and social activity; 111 participants) or supportive therapy (attention control treatment; 110 participants).

Based upon the 69.4 percent of behavioral activation participants and 79.1 percent of supportive therapy participants who had two-year outcome assessments, the researchers found that the two-year incidence of memory decline was 1.2 percent for behavioral activation and 9.3 percent for supportive therapy (relative risk, 0.12). Stable everyday function was associated with behavioral activation, while a decline was seen with supportive therapy. Serious adverse events over the study period included falls (13 percent for behavioral activation and 25 percent for supportive therapy), emergency department visits (22 percent for both), hospitalizations (32 and 28 percent, respectively), and deaths (5 and 4 percent, respectively).

"Black individuals have almost twice the rate of dementia as white individuals; behavioral activation may reduce this health disparity," the authors write.

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