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Diabetes, heart disease in combination create higher dementia risk, study shows

Dementia risk doubles if a person has at least two of these three diseases: type 2 diabetes, stroke or heart disease, according to Swedish research published Thursday. Image by Garpenholm/Wikimedia Commons
Dementia risk doubles if a person has at least two of these three diseases: type 2 diabetes, stroke or heart disease, according to Swedish research published Thursday. Image by Garpenholm/Wikimedia Commons

June 16 (UPI) -- Dementia risk doubles if a person has at least two of these three diseases: type 2 diabetes, stroke or heart disease, according to Swedish research published Thursday.

"Cardiometabolic multi-morbidity accelerates cognitive decline and increases the risk of both cognitive impairment and its conversion to dementia," the study said.

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The study authors said their findings highlight type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease as "ideal targets for preventive measures to slow cognitive decline and postpone the development of cognitive impairment and dementia."

According to the Swedish medical school, the Karolinska Institute, dementia slowly develops over decades. It first manifests as gradual cognitive decline that only shows up in cognitive tests, progresses to impairment of memory that the individual notices and finally becomes full-blown dementia.

"Few studies have examined how the risk of dementia is affected by having more than one of these diseases simultaneously, so that's what we wanted to examine in our study," said Abigail Dove, a doctoral student at the Karolinska Institute.

The research findings are based on extracted data from the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care on 2,500 healthy, dementia-free people over age 60 in Stockholm.

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Dove said the study shows if a person has just one of the three cardiometabolic diseases, it is not linked to a significantly higher risk of dementia. It's the combination of at least two of the three that creates the higher dementia risk.

So that means it's possible to avert dementia by preventing development of a second disease, she said.

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