Vascular risk factors have been associated with cognitive decline and now findings from a new study suggest that midlife vascular health risk factors, many of which are modifiable, are linked with a higher risk of dementia later in life.
The study, published in JAMA Neurology , analysed data relating to 15,744 adults aged 44-66 years of age at baseline. Diabetes, hypertension and smoking, and, for the first time, prehypertension, were all linked with a higher risk of dementia later in life. Black race, older age, the presence of the APOE4 gene, and lower educational attainment were also linked with an increased risk. After age, the presence of the APOE4 gene was the strongest risk factor for subsequent risk of dementia. Diabetes was almost as strong a predictor of dementia as the presence of the APOE4 gene. Risk for dementia was minimally reduced in women compared with men.
“Our results contribute to a growing body of evidence linking midlife vascular health to dementia,” said lead author, Dr. Rebecca Gottesman. “These are modifiable risk factors. Our hope is that by addressing these types of factors early, people can reduce the chances that they will suffer from dementia later in life.”