Healthy lifestyle behaviors lower dementia risk in people with or without a family history for dementia, preliminary research from the American Heart Association has found.

This is an interesting determination, researchers said, because having a first-degree relative with the disease can increase an individual’s risk of dementia by almost 75% when compared with someone who does not have a first-degree relative with the condition.

The researchers analyzed health information from 302,239 men and women aged 50 to 73 years. They completed a baseline physical examination between 2006 and 2010 as part of the UK Biobank Study, a large study encompassing more than 500,000 people in the United Kingdom.

“When dementia runs in a family, both genetics and non-genetic factors, such as dietary patterns, physical activity and smoking status, affect an individual’s overall risk,” said study author Angelique Brellenthin, Ph.D., assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University, Ames, IA. “This means there may be opportunities for reducing risk by addressing those non-genetic factors.”