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Risk Factors for Dementia May Change With Age

FRIDAY, May 20, 2022 -- Dementia risk factors appear to shift with age, and experts say knowing that could help people make lifestyle changes to reduce their chances of developing the disease.

"Dementia is a complicated disease and risk prediction scores need to be tailored to the individual," said Emer McGrath of the National University of Ireland Galway, lead author of a new study. "Our findings support the use of age-specific risk prediction scores for dementia instead of a one-size-fits-all approach."

For the study, the researchers analyzed data collected from nearly 4,900 Americans enrolled in the Framingham Heart Study. The participants were followed from roughly age 55 to 80, and were tracked from age 65 to see who developed dementia.

Participants who had diabetes at age 55 were over four times more likely to develop dementia later on than those without diabetes at that age.

The investigators also found that people with high blood pressure at 55 were more likely to develop dementia, and the risk rose about 12% with every 10-point increase in systolic blood pressure, the top number in the reading.

People who had heart disease, but not stroke, at age 65 were nearly twice as likely to develop dementia, the findings showed.

Those in their 70s who had diabetes and stroke were more likely to develop dementia, and 80-year-olds who had either a stroke or diabetes were between 40% and 60% more likely to do so, according to the report published online May 18 in the journal Neurology.

"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," McGrath said in a journal news release.

The study authors noted that most of the study participants were white, so the findings may not apply to those in other racial and/or ethnic groups.


  • Neurology, news release, May 18, 2022

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