Individuals who have at least two of the conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or stroke, are twice as likely to acquire dementia.
Diabetes and cardiovascular disease prevention might thus be a strategy for lowering dementia risk, according to a study published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia by Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. Type 2 diabetes, heart disease (ischemic heart disease, heart failure, or atrial fibrillation), and stroke, all of which are known as cardiometabolic illnesses, are major risk factors for dementia.
“Few studies have examined how the risk of dementia is affected by having more than one of these diseases simultaneously, so that’s what we wanted to examine in our study,” ANI quoted Abigail Dove, a doctoral student at the Aging Research Centre, part of the Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institutet.
Dementia develops gradually over time. It begins with slow cognitive impairment that is only visible on cognitive tests. It then progresses to cognitive impairment, in which the individual acknowledges their diminishing memory but is still able to care for oneself, and lastly to dementia.
More than one cardiometabolic disease doubles the dementia risk
The researchers gathered information from the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care on 2,500 healthy, dementia-free people over the age of 60 who lived on Kungsholmen in Stockholm. The prevalence of cardiometabolic illnesses was determined at the outset of the research using medical records and clinical examination. After that, the subjects were followed for twelve years with medical exams and cognitive testing to track changes in cognitive capacity and the development of dementia.
The presence of several cardiometabolic diseases accelerated cognitive decline and increased the likelihood of cognitive impairment and dementia, accelerating their development by two years. The degree of the danger grew as the number of illnesses increased.
“In our study, the combinations of diabetes/heart disease and diabetes/heart disease/stroke were the most damaging to cognitive function,” says Dove.
Prevention of a second disease important
However, individuals who had just one cardiometabolic disease did not display a significantly higher risk of dementia.
“This is good news. The study shows that the risk only increases once someone has at least two of the diseases, so it’s possible that dementia can be averted by preventing the development of a second disease.”
The correlation between cardiometabolic diseases and the risk for dementia was stronger in the participants who were under 78 years old.
“We should therefore focus on cardiometabolic disease prevention already in middle age since the risk of cognitive failure and dementia appears higher among those who develop a cardiometabolic disease earlier in life,” says Dove.
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