Poor metabolic health ‘linked with 12% higher risk of dementia later in life’
Having conditions such as high blood pressure, excess body fat, and abnormal cholesterol is believed to be a contributing factor.
Having conditions such as high blood pressure, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol, may increase the risk of developing dementia later in life, research suggests.
People living with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions which also includes high levels of fat in the blood (triglycerides) and high blood sugar (glucose), are at 12% higher risk of developing dementia compared with those without the conditions, according to scientists at Oxford Population Health.
The research, published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association also found that having all five components of metabolic syndrome increased the risk of dementia by 50%.
The scientist said that treating metabolic syndrome by using medicines or making lifestyle changes could help reduce this risk.
Danial Qureshi, lead author and PhD candidate at Oxford Population Health, said: “Our study findings suggest that early identification and management of metabolic syndrome could potentially reduce risk of developing dementia later in life.”
He added: “Learning more about this link is crucial, especially given the rapid increase in dementia cases worldwide and the limited number of effective treatments currently available.”
Those with poor metabolic health are already known to be at greater risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
It affects an estimated one in three adults aged 50 or over in the UK.
For the study, the researchers looked at data from more than 176,000 people in the UK Biobank, an online database of medical and lifestyle records of half a million Britons, over a period of 15 years.
All those involved in the study were aged 60 or older and free of dementia at the start.
Around 42% (73,510 people) had metabolic syndrome at the start of the study and the most common condition was high blood pressure (96%), followed by high triglycerides (74%), low “good” (LDL) cholesterol (72%), high waist circumference (70%), and high blood glucose (50%).
Over the course of the study, 5,255 went on to develop dementia.
Findings showed having four or five conditions associated with metabolic syndrome increased the risk of dementia by 19% and 50% respectively.
Dr Thomas Littlejohns, senior author and Senior Epidemiologist at Oxford Population Health, said: “There is growing evidence that better prevention, management and treatment of certain health conditions could reduce future risk of dementia.
“These findings suggest that it is also important to consider the role of multiple conditions, especially as we observed the greatest risk in those with all five components of metabolic syndrome.”