High Blood Pressure, Weight And Smoking Linked To Dementia Risk

High blood pressure, obesity and smoking in middle age men and women may result in decreased brain volume and cause cognitive decline and dementia later in life.

A study by researchers at UC Davis examined over 1,300 participants, with the average age of 54 years.   The individuals medical histories were followed to identify vascular disease risk factors, and elevated body mass index, hypertension, obesity, diabetes and smoking.

The researchers acquired measures of vascular disease that are linked with increased vascular damage. The scientists looked at changes in total brain volume, cognitive tests of verbal and spatial memory together with decision-making capabilities measurements.

According to the findings, people with high blood pressure had a faster decline in scores on tests of executive function or decision and planning making, in comparison to those with normal blood pressure.   The researchers noted that their findings revealed that obese participants in the study data were more prone to being in the top 25% of people with a greater decline rate in scores on tests of executive functioning abilities later in life.

The investigation discovered lost brain volume in the hippocampus brain region was faster in participants with diabetes during mid-life, than those without diabetes when they were older. Participants who smoked, lost overall brain volume faster, and were more likely to have a rapid increase in white matter hyper-intensities than non-smokers. 

Over five percent of American adults over age 65 have one or more cognitive disorders according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance  <a href> http://www.aaltci.org </a>.  “These studies continue to point out the importance of healthy lifestyles because millions of Americans will now live into their 80s and 90s,” explains Jesse Slome, AALTCI’s director.

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