Diabetes Forecast

Improvements in Your Metabolic Profile May Reduce Your Risk for Dementia

What to Know

Dementia, which disrupts memory and impairs thinking, affects nearly 20 percent of people over 75. Most often, dementia results from Alzheimer’s disease; another form of dementia is called vascular dementia, which frequently occurs after a stroke. While its causes are not well understood, we do know certain risk factors for dementia, such as high blood pressure, obesity, and high cholesterol. These health conditions make up what’s called the metabolic syndrome, which heightens your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Would efforts to prevent metabolic syndrome also reduce the risk of dementia?

The Study

More than 7,000 people over the age of 65 participated in the study. All were part of a larger study of dementia risk factors. Researchers evaluated each of them for metabolic syndrome and for dementia. Using statistics, they estimated the chances of developing dementia over a 4-year period based on the various risk factors the participants had.

The Results

Those who had metabolic syndrome were more likely to develop vascular dementia but not Alzheimer’s disease. Two risk factors were specifically linked to vascular disease: diabetes and high levels of triglycerides, a type of fat found in the blood.


Reducing triglycerides and controlling diabetes early on may reduce your risk of vascular dementia. However, it’s unclear how long it takes for metabolic syndrome to raise the risk of dementia. Also, how we define metabolic syndrome may have to be adjusted depending on a person’s age. Finally, the people in the study who were most likely to develop dementia may have died of heart disease first. That could have affected the results of the study.

Metabolic syndrome and risk for incident Alzheimer's disease or vascular dementia, by Christelle Raffaitin and colleagues. Diabetes Care 32:169?174, 2009 http://dx.doi.org/10.2337/dc08-0272

The information on this screen does not take the place of care from your doctor or other health care provider. If you have general questions about diabetes or diabetes-related research, e-mail askada@diabetes.org or call 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2382).



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