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(HealthDay News) — For patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or early dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease (AD), comprehensive lifestyle changes may improve cognition and function, according to a study published online June 7 in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy.

Dean Ornish, MD, from Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, CA, and colleagues conducted a randomized controlled phase 2 trial involving 51 individuals aged 45 to 90 years with MCI or early dementia due to AD and a Montreal Cognitive Assessment score of 18 or higher. Changes in cognition and function tests were examined after 20 weeks of an intensive multidomain lifestyle intervention versus a wait-list usual-care control group.

The researchers found significant between-group differences in the Clinical Global Impression of Change (CGIC), Clinical Dementia Rating-Sum of Boxes (CDR-SB) and Clinical Dementia Rating Global (CDR Global), as well as borderline significant differences in the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS-Cog) after 20 weeks. Compared with the control group, which worsened in all four measures, the intervention group showed improvement in cognition and function on the CGIC, CDR-Global, and ADAS-Cog and showed significantly less progression on the CDR-SB. There was an increase in the β-amyloid (Aβ)42/40 ratio in the intervention group and a decrease in the control group. A significant correlation was seen between lifestyle and both cognitive function and the plasma Aβ42/40 ratio. Improvement in the microbiome was only seen in the intervention group.

“These findings support longer follow-up and larger clinical trials to determine the longer-term outcomes of this intensive lifestyle medicine intervention in larger groups of more diverse AD populations,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed ties to the biopharmaceutical industry.

Abstract/Full Text