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Good Heart Health at Age 50 Linked to Lower Dementia Risk Later In Life

Good cardiovascular health at age 50 is associated with a lower risk of dementia later in life, finds a study of British adults published by The BMJ today.

Dementia is a progressive disease that can start to develop 15-20 years before any symptoms appear, so identifying factors that might prevent its onset is important.

The American Heart Association’s “Life Simple 7” cardiovascular health score, initially designed for cardiovascular disease, has been put forward as a potential tool for preventing dementia.

Designed for “primordial” prevention, where the aim is to prevent the development of risk factors themselves in order to affect risk of disease, it is the sum of four behavioural (smoking, diet, physical activity, body mass index) and three biological (fasting glucose, blood cholesterol, blood pressure) metrics, categorised into poor (scores 0-6), intermediate (7-11), and optimal (12-14) cardiovascular health.

But the evidence remains inconsistent. So to address this uncertainty, an international research project led by Séverine Sabia from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research and University College London, examined the association between the Life Simple 7 cardiovascular health score at age 50 and risk of dementia over the next 25 years.

Their findings are based on cardiovascular data collected from 7,899 British men and women at age 50 in the Whitehall II Study, which is looking at the impact of social, behavioural, and biological factors on long term health.

For more information and research details,  Association of ideal cardiovascular health at age 50 with incidence of dementia: 25 year follow-up of Whitehall II cohort study, BMJ (2019). DOI: 10.1136/bmj.l4414

Information Provided by: British Medical Journal (BMJ)

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