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Healthy Heart Protects Against Dementia? 

January 25, 2005

Four cardiovascular disease risk factors have been linked to dementia, according to a new study.

Researchers report people who suffer from one or more of the following risk factors "high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, and smoking," during midlife, are more likely to develop dementia compared to people with no risk factors. 

The study, by Rachel Whitmer of Kaiser Permanente, included close to 9,000 northern Californians and appears in the January 25 issue of Neurology.

Overall, Whitmer found cardiovascular (CV) risk factors in midlife (40 to 44), was linked with a 20 to 40 percent higher risk of dementia later in live.

The risk factor for dementia was compounded when more than one CV risk factor was present. 

Among those with two CV risk factors, the risk of dementia was 70 percent. Individuals with all four CV risk factors had a 237 percent increased risk of developing dementia. 

Smoking during midlife was associated with a 26 percent increased dementia risk. Diabetes increased dementia risk by 46 percent, high total cholesterol by 42 percent and high blood pressure increased dementia risk by 24 percent.

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