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Alzheimer News 1/25/2005
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Midlife heart risk factors raise chances of late-life dementia

Individuals in their early 40s who smoke or have diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure all have an increased risk of developing dementia as they age, according to a decades-long study of more than 8,000 Californians published in the Jan. 25 Neurology.

Each specific factor raises risk by 20 to 40 percent and having all four more than doubles the likelihood of dementia. The researchers found these correlations applied across the board to men, women, whites, blacks, Asians and members of other races as well as individuals of all educational backgrounds.

"Evidence continues to mount that what's good for your heart is good for your head," said William H. Thies, Ph.D., Alzheimer's Association vice president, medical and scientific affairs. "This study is noteworthy for its size, its length and its diversity as well as participants' equal access to health care."

To help Americans take brain health to heart, the Alzheimer's Association has launched Maintain Your Brain®, a public health and education campaign to raise awareness of diet, exercise and other lifestyle choices that can support lifelong cognitive vitality.

In today's Neurology study, researchers reviewed medical records for 8,845 members of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program of Northern California who had at least one comprehensive health checkup between 1964 and 1973 while they were 40 to 44 years old and who were still members of the health plan in 1994. The investigators then developed midlife cardiovascular risk profiles reflecting whether people smoked or had diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol at the time of their initial checkups. From 1994 to 2003, the investigators used Kaiser's computerized medical record system to track who developed dementia from any cause. Then they correlated midlife risk factors with the likelihood of being diagnosed with dementia.

For more information, please see:

  • The Alzheimer's Association Maintain Your Brain® campaign

 

Alzheimer's Association

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Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.