Preventing diabetes and cardiovascular disease could be a strategy to reduce the risk of dementia, according to a study from Karolinska Institutet published in the journal. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke – the so-called cardiovascular disease – are the biggest risk factors for dementia. Heart disease here means ischemic heart disease, heart failure or atrial fibrillation.
Few studies have examined how your risk of developing dementia is affected if you have more than one of these diseases at the same time, so we wanted to investigate our study, says Abigail Dove, a doctoral student in the Center for Aging Research in the Department of Neuroscience, Care and Community Sciences at Karolinska Institutet.
Dementia develops over decades
The development of dementia occurs gradually over decades. First comes the gradual cognitive decline seen only on cognitive tests, then cognitive impairment when the person himself notices that they are beginning to lose memory but are still adjusting to daily life, and finally fully developed dementia. This is how the researchers conducted the study:
- The data came from the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care, a total of 2,500 healthy people free of dementia living in Kungsholmen in Stockholm from age 60 and over.
- The incidence of cardiovascular disease was assessed at baseline by medical records and clinical examination.
- The subjects were then followed for twelve years with medical examination and cognitive tests to screen for cognitive impairment and dementia.
More than one disease doubles the risk of dementia
The study showed that the presence of more than one metabolic heart disease in humans, accelerates cognitive decline and doubles the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. The time it takes to develop dementia was accelerated by two years. The more illnesses people in the study had, the higher their risk of developing dementia.
In our study, Abigail Dove says that combinations of diabetes and heart disease plus diabetes, heart disease and stroke were the most detrimental to cognitive function.
However, those who had only one metabolic heart disease did not show a significant increase in the risk of developing dementia.
– It’s good news. The study shows that the risk only increases when you have at least two diseases, so this is an opportunity to prevent the development of a second disease and then also prevent the development of dementia.
Preventing cardiovascular disease in middle age
The association between cardiovascular disease and an increased risk of dementia was higher among study participants younger than 78 years old.
“So we should focus on preventing cardiovascular disease already in middle age, as the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia appears to be higher for those who develop cardiovascular disease early in life,” says Abigail Dove.
In future studies, the researchers want to learn more about the mechanism behind the link between cardiovascular disease and dementia. They want to investigate the importance of genetics and use brain imaging to explore how type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke cause brain damage. Scientific material:
Multiple cardiovascular diseases accelerate cognitive decline and development of dementia(Abigail Dove, Anna Marsiglia, Ying Chang, Giulia Grande, David Leporio Vetrano, Erica J. Lauca, Laura Fratiglione, Willie Shaw)Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.
“Extreme tv maven. Beer fanatic. Friendly bacon fan. Communicator. Wannabe travel expert.”