Conditions that increase risk of the memory-robbing disease vary with age; scientists note. And MSN’s recent article entitled “Study: Diabetes can significantly raise the risk of dementia” explains that those around the age of 55 are most likely to develop it, if they have diabetes and high blood pressure.

Those with heart disease in their mid-60s are most prone, and those in their 70s should be wary if they suffered a stroke – or have diabetes. This also applied to 80-year-olds but taking blood pressure medications was protective.

Lead author Professor Emer McGrath, of the National University of Ireland Galway, remarked, “These findings can help us to more accurately predict a person’s future risk of developing dementia and make individualized recommendations on lifestyle changes and risk factor control to help reduce their risk of dementia later on.”

The number of dementia cases worldwide will triple to more than 150 million by 2050. With no cure in sight, there’s more focus on preventative behaviors.

Professor McGrath and colleagues monitored about 5,000 people in the US for up to 25 years from around the age of 55. They used information from the Framingham Heart Study, which has been surveying the health of residents of the Massachusetts town. About half of the participants remained dementia-free and had data available at around the age of 80. Starting at 65, they were followed to see who developed dementia.

People who had diabetes when they were 55 were more than four times more likely to later develop dementia than people who did not have diabetes at that age. 55-year-olds with high blood pressure were also more likely to develop dementia, with the risk increasing by about 12% for every 10-point increase in systolic blood pressure, which is the top number in the reading.

Those with cardiovascular disease at 65 were nearly twice as likely to later develop dementia as those who didn’t have those conditions. This could include a heart attack or other heart conditions, but not stroke.

People in their 70s who had diabetes and stroke were more likely to develop dementia. For 80-year-olds, people who had a stroke or diabetes were about 40% to 60% more likely to develop dementia.

Professor McGrath added, “Dementia is a complicated disease and risk prediction scores need to be tailored to the individual. Our findings support the use of age-specific risk prediction scores for dementia, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.”

The study in the journal Neurology offers hope of a screening program to identify vulnerable individuals.  Current drugs can treat the symptoms, not the cause.

Reference: MSN (May 24, 2022) “Study: Diabetes can significantly raise the risk of dementia”

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