Dementia link to poor metabolic health

Poor metabolic health might be associated with an increased risk of developing dementia, a new study has shown.

Researchers at Oxford Population Health, UK, found that people with metabolic syndrome had a 12% increased risk of developing dementia compared with participants who did not have metabolic syndrome

The study was published yesterday in Alzheimer s & Dementia.

Poor metabolic health was defined as having three or more of: high waist circumference, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, high blood glucose, and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, collectively known as metabolic syndrome.

The team investigated the association between metabolic syndrome and subsequent risk of developing dementia by analysing data from 176,249 participants from the UK Biobank study.

All participants were over 60 at the start of the study and had not been diagnosed with dementia.

In total, 73,510 of study participants (42%) had metabolic syndrome when their data were collected at the start of the study, with 96% of those having high blood pressure (96%). High triglycerides were found in 74% of participants, low HDL-cholesterol in 72%, high waist circumference in 70%, and high blood glucose in 50%.

Their health was tracked through their medical records over 15 years and out of the cohort 5,255 went on to develop dementia over the 15-year period.

Not only did those with metabolic syndrome had a 12% increased risk of developing dementia compared with participants who did not have the condition, having more metabolic syndrome conditions was linked to a greater risk of developing dementia.

The team found having four or five conditions increased the risk of dementia by 19% and 50%, respectively.

Lead author Danial Qureshi, 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.

Metabolic syndrome is an especially promising target for prevention since each of its individual components are modifiable through lifestyle changes or pharmacological treatments. 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.

Senior author Dr Thomas Littlejohns, senior epidemiologist at Oxford Population Health, added: 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.

Alzheimer s & Dementia 7 September 2023

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