People who have high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes or who smoke in midlife have a much higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later on, U.S. researchers have found.
And the more factors a person has, the higher the risk. People with all four risk factors have more than double the risk of Alzheimer’s, reported a team at Kaiser Permanente’s division of research in Oakland.
“The message is that the risk factors that are bad for the heart are bad for the brain,” said Dr. Marilyn Albert, chairwoman of scientific and medical research at the nonprofit Alzheimer’s Assn.
For the report, published in the Jan. 25 issue of the journal Neurology, Rachel Whitmer and colleagues studied nearly 9,000 people living in Northern California. The men and women from various ethnic groups were followed for 27 years. Those with diabetes at age 40 to 45 were 46% more likely to develop dementia later on. People with high cholesterol were 42% more likely to develop dementia, and those with high blood pressure were 24% more likely.
Smokers were 26% more likely to develop dementia. Smokers with diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol were more than twice as likely to develop dementia, researchers reported.
People who were treated for their conditions lowered their overall risk of Alzheimer’s, however.