Dementia risk factors identified

August 4, 2006

Brussels, 03 Aug 2006

Swedish-Finnish team has identified the factors associated with dementia for the first time, from a 20-year study into the effects of ageing. The team has devised a simple test to determine susceptibility to dementia.

The Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Ageing and Dementia (CAIDE) study followed 1,464 individuals from the Kuopio and Joensuu areas of Finland for an average of 23 years. 1,409 subjects were examined at the end of the trial for signs of dementia.

The team found that the incidence of dementia was 4 per cent - 61 subjects were diagnosed with dementia, including 48 with Alzheimer's. Risk factors that the team found to be associated with dementia were age, low education, hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia, and obesity.

Measuring these factors is simple, and in fact routine - blood pressure, body mass index, cholesterol, level of exercise and education, and of course age, can be measured by a doctor. The team was able to then work backwards and predict the likelihood of dementia from the risk factors.

'The idea is to have a simple tool to predict the risk for diseases, like you have for cardiovascular diseases or diabetes,' Miaa Kivipelto, from Sweden's Karolinska Institute, told the BBC. 'But for dementia there has been nothing like this. The idea to put this information together and have an overall estimation for dementia risk is new.'

The results, published in the journal Lancet Neurology, suggest that those at risk can be identified earlier, and that proactive steps can be taken. For example, taking drugs to lower blood pressure or cholesterol, or simply taking exercise.

'This approach highlights the role of vascular factors in the development of dementia and could help identify individuals who might benefit from intensive lifestyle consultations and pharmacological interventions,' reads the paper.

Further information

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2006
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