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At Stanfield Nursing Home, we have been providing dementia care services for many years within the Worcester area. As a result, we’ve noticed there are many factors throughout life that can contribute to cognitive decline. One emerging risk of developing dementia could be an increase in air pollution.

Air Pollution and Cognitive Decline

A recent study has discovered that spikes in air pollution could cause an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia in older men. Even if the rise is short-term, it can have a negative effect on brain functioning of males over 70.

It is common knowledge that air pollution can cause physical health difficulties, particularly to the lungs. However, new evidence highlights potential mental harm. In this study, researchers built on existing research that has suggested air pollution can cause dementia. This involved testing mathematics and verbal capabilities of 25,000 people living in 162 counties in China. Moreover, researchers compared these results with air pollution conditions in those counties.

Levels Of Pollution Increases the Risk of Dementia

The study reported that the higher the levels of pollution, the lower the test scores as people grew older. Researchers noted that the biggest impact was on males and that the decline was seen as progressive over time. This is a strong indicator that air pollution increases the risk of cognitive decline and indeed dementia. It is important to note that results cannot explain how pollution might be causing this cognitive decline. It is also unclear as to which air pollution constituent might be to blame as researchers did not test for all elements and particulates.

In this case, scientists have previously speculated that PM2.5 could be the cause of this decline. It is the finest type of air pollution found mostly as a result of exhaust fumes from vehicles. These tiny particles may be capable of reaching the brain where they can trigger inflammation and damage neurons, resulting in cognitive decline.

Professors from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, investigated this correlation further. Academics wanted to see if taking anti-inflammatories reduced the effects. Participants taking common anti-inflammatories showed a smaller drop in their cognitive test scores as pollution levels rose. Whereas, those who were not taking anti-inflammatories showed a higher decrease in cognitive test scores.

Professor Ryan and Dr Owen said:

“The findings provide a tantalising possibility of better understanding the role of air pollution on cognitive health, and more research into the underlying mechanisms of [anti-inflammatory drugs] potential protective effects is urgently needed.”

Caring for Cognitive Decline at Stanfield Nursing Home

If you would like to learn more information about cognitive decline and the specialist dementia care provided at Stanfield Nursing Home, please visit our website today. Alternatively, you can call 01905 420 459 to speak to a member of our helpful and friendly team. You can also check out our social media for daily updates.

If you have found this useful, you may wish to read our blog about our Leading Specialist Dementia Care in Worcester.