Having a Healthy Heart Lowers Dementia Risk
A healthy heart in middle age could mean a healthy brain later in life, according to a new study that suggests heart disease risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure, and smoking increase dementia risk. The term dementia refers to symptoms such as memory loss and cognitive problems that develop as a result of changes in the brain.
For this study, researchers followed more than 15,000 adults between the ages of 45 and 54 for 25 years. Study participants with diabetes in middle age were 77 percent more likely to develop dementia than those without diabetes, those who smoked were 41 percent more likely to develop dementia than non-smokers, and those with hypertension were 39 percent more likely to develop dementia than those with normal blood pressure.
This study confirms earlier research suggesting conditions that damage the heart or blood vessels increase dementia risk. More research is needed to determine if treating heart disease risk factors in middle age can help lower the risk for dementia in old age.
Image Credit: Thinkstock