Two long-term British medical studies have discovered warning signs of dementia and heart disease risk in an unlikely place – at your feet. Specifically, they found that older adults who walk more slowly are more likely to develop dementia and heart disease.
According to a study published in the March 6, 2018, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, University College London and University of Nottingham researchers discovered this correlation when they examined data from 3,932 over-60 adults participating in the English Longitudinal Study of Aging. In 2002-2003 and again in 2004-2005, they recorded participants’ walking speeds. Then, between 2006 and 2015, they checked the participants’ yearly follow-up assessments.
There were more dementia cases, they found, among the slower walkers – especially those whose walking slowed the most between the first time their walks were measured and the second time, two years later.
In another study, from 2006 to 2010, University of Leicester researchers analyzed UK Biobank data on more than 420,000 men and women, 39 to 74 years old, who were free of cardiovascular disease. They surveyed the participants on their general walk speed – slow, steady/average, or brisk pace.
According to Professor Tom Yates, the principal investigator, when they looked at health data six years later,
Slow walkers were around twice as likely to have a heart-related death compared to brisk walkers. This finding was seen in both men and women and was not explained by related risk factors such as smoking, body mass index, [or] diet…This suggests habitual walking pace is an independent predictor of heart-related death.
The point of both these studies is, the warning signs of dementia, cardiovascular disease, or other age-related conditions aren’t always that obvious. That’s why we fully assess seniors’ specific physical, psychosocial and mental status and why our caregivers make sure to identify and track changes over time. And why it makes good sense to contact us for a free 30-minute consultation.