Poor Metabolic Health Now May Lead to Dementia Later

A bigger waistline, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high blood triglycerides, and low “good” cholesterol. These are all conditions within metabolic syndrome. Having several of these together can raise your risk of heart issues and diabetes. A new study finds it may also be a predictor of dementia.

Researchers at Oxford Population Health recently examined data from more than 176,000 participants from the UK Biobank study, in an attempt to understand how metabolic syndrome may impact dementia risk. The findings, published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, show that poor metabolic health is linked with a higher risk of developing dementia in the future. This may prove to be a possible prevention tool.

Man checks blood pressure at home

Danial Qureshi, lead author and PhD candidate at Oxford Population Health, says, “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.”

The data came from 176,249 UK Biobank participants who were dementia-free and 60 or older at the time the study began. They were then followed for up 15 years, by which time 5,255 had developed dementia.

Among those who had metabolic syndrome, there was a 12% higher risk of dementia, compared to those without metabolic issues. The more conditions a person had, the higher the risk, with four of the five conditions within metabolic syndrome leading to a 19% higher risk. That jumped to 50% in those with all five.

Man pinches the fat around his stomach

Dr. Thomas Littlejohns, senior author and Senior Epidemiologist at Oxford Population Health, says, ”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.”

There was also a stronger association in those with a lower genetic risk of dementia, as well as in those diagnosed more than decade after their poor metabolic health was recorded.

Metabolic syndrome also increases the risk of coronary heart disease, which is linked to a higher risk of dementia. There are certain heart-healthy behaviors that can promote both heart and brain health, though. To read more about them, click here!

Doctor checks man's blood pressure
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