The speed at which we walk while adults may be an indicator of the risk of dementia or stroke when they reach old age, as appears from an investigation by the Boston Medical Center (USA) presented at the meeting of the American Academy of Neurology this April. Thus, neurologists and general practitioners in their consults dispondrían “a convenient and simple test to predict the risk of impaired cognitive function,” the researchers say.

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In studies with more than 2400 men and women who were around 60 years, Erica C. Camargo and colleagues measured the speed of walking and grip strength of their hands, and cognitive function, helped also by brain scans. During the 11 years studied their evolution. And so it proved that people who walked more slowly initially were 1.5 times more likely to develop dementia. In addition, they found that walking at a slow pace was associated with reduced brain volume, a memory weaker and less skilled in the use of language and decision-making.

The researchers intend to conduct further studies to understand why this happens and if there is preclinical disease that could be causing the slow walking or lower grip strength. Being married or living with a partner reduces risk of Alzheimer’s dementia and aging by 50 percent, according to a study by Swiss and Finnish scientists and published in the prestigious British Medical Journal. The data also indicate that widowed or divorced about fifty years triples the chances of developing dementia.

According Miia Kivipelto, author of the study, the results are valuable in the face of primary care and suggests that preventive treatment in adults who have lost their partners could reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s and dementia, and thus prevent compliance with the forecasts of experts who estimate that in 2040 there will be 81.1 million people affected by these diseases.