The study explores how different combinations of cardiovascular diseases increase the risk of dementia in older adults

New research from the University of Surrey shows that people in the US and England with multiple cardiovascular conditions such as diabetes and high systolic blood pressure are more likely to develop dementia than their relatively healthy peers.

The study also found that people living in China had an increased risk of developing dementia if they were obese and had high blood pressure, compared to those who were relatively healthy back home.

Dementia affects 55 million people worldwide and currently there is no cure, so prevention is key. Cardiovascular disease has been shown to increase the likelihood of developing the syndrome due to its association with vascular, biological, and neurodegenerative diseases, which can accelerate brain aging and cognitive decline.

Understanding how cardiac metabolic states cluster and which combination of them leads to increased risk of dementia worldwide is important because such knowledge can help design tailored prevention strategies that target different risk factors in different countries.”

Panagiota Kontari is a Post Graduate Researcher in the School of Psychology, University of Surrey

In the first study of its kind, researchers from the University of Surrey investigated how cardiometabolic conditions such as low/high density lipoprotein (HDL), systolic and diastolic blood pressure (BP), hyperglycemia, diabetes, and inflammation occur. interact with each other. They then looked at how different combinations of cardiovascular disease were associated with the risk of dementia in older people in England, the United States and China. Different groups of cardiometabolic states predicted dementia in England and the United States compared with China.

By analyzing data from more than 18,500 participants, aged 50 and over, in England, the United States and China, the researchers examined their heart-metabolic status and whether they developed dementia later in life. The participants were divided, based on their medical condition, into three distinct groups: Healthy/relatively healthy obesity“,”Obesity and high blood pressure‘ And ‘complex cardiovascular (Those with a number of cardio-metabolic conditions including low HDL cholesterol, central obesity, systolic diabetes and high glucose). These groups served as predictors of dementia risk.

The researchers determined that among all three samples, a total of 1,230 participants developed dementia (6.3 percent in the sample from the United Kingdom, 9.3 percent in the United States, and 5.2 percent in China).
It was found that those with multiple cardiovascular diseases from England and the United States had a higher risk of developing dementia, compared to those with a myocardial profile.

In addition, unlike their peers in England and the United States, participants in China had a higher likelihood of developing dementia if they were obese and had high blood pressure. Researchers believe that this may be due to the prevalence of middle-aged obesity, high blood pressure, and physical inactivity that is increasing in the country as a result of the westernization of society and rapid economic growth in the past three decades, which has not led to improvements in health care.

Dr Kimberly Smith, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Health Psychology at the University of Surrey, said:

“In the UK and the US, complex cardiovascular disease is associated with higher rates of dementia, while in a Chinese sample, a different cardiac metabolic profile appears to be associated with an increased risk of dementia.

“This is an interesting preliminary finding that we will need to confirm in other studies before any specific recommendations can be made. This study suggests that we should carefully examine the different patterns of dementia risk in different countries rather than assuming that work done in the so-called WEIRD (white population, Educated, industrialized, rich and democrats) will generalize to other countries. It will be interesting for future work to examine this relationship in other global majority contexts.”


Journal reference:

Contari, b. et al. (2023) Pooling of cardiometabolic risk factors and incidence of dementia in the elderly: a cross-country comparison in England, the USA and China. Gerontology Journals: Series A.

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