Developing heart disease before a certain age could raise dementia risk

Developing heart disease before the age of 45 are at much greater rush of dementia in later, warns new research. Researchers who analysed data from more than 430,000 British people found that participants who had coronary heart disease younger than 45 had a 36 per cent increased risk of developing dementia.

The findings, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, showed they were also at a 13 percent increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s and had a 78 percent greater risk of developing vascular dementia compared with people who did not have coronary heart disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, most common in people over the age of 65. Vascular dementia is another common cause of dementia that affects around 180,000 people in the UK.

Study senior author Dr Fanfan Zheng said: “Coronary heart disease has previously been associated with dementia risk in older adults, however, this is believed to be the first large-scale study examining whether the age of coronary heart disease onset may impact the risk of developing dementia later in life.

“In previous research, we found that adults experienced accelerated cognitive decline after new diagnoses of coronary heart disease.”

The researchers assessed the potential relationship between age at coronary heart disease onset and the development of dementia by analysing health data from the UK Biobank, a database and research resource with health records of around 500,000 adults. The risk of dementia rose in direct proportion to the younger age of coronary heart disease onset, according to the findings.

Dr Zheng, of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, said: “What surprised us most was the linear relationship between age of coronary heart disease onset and dementia. This shows the huge detrimental influence of premature coronary heart disease on brain health.”

She added: “As more people live longer and are diagnosed with coronary heart disease at a younger age, it’s likely there will be a large increase in the number of people living with dementia in years to come. Health care professionals should be aware of individuals diagnosed with coronary heart disease at a young age. The next step is to determine whether modifying cardiovascular risk early in life will promote better brain health later in life.”

The Alzheimer’s Society has some tips for reducing your risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementias. The first is physical activity. It says: “Doing regular physical activity is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of dementia. It’s good for your heart, circulation, weight and mental wellbeing.”

Eating a healthy, balanced diet may also reduce your risk of dementia. The charity explains: “No single ingredient, nutrient or food can improve brain health by itself. Instead, eating a range of different foods in the right proportions is what makes a difference. This is known as a ‘balanced’ diet.

“By eating a balanced diet you are more likely to get all the nutrients you need for your brain to stay healthy.” Some eating patterns have been shown to be particularly helpful in protecting against dementia, such as the Mediterranean-style diet.

If you smoke you’re putting yourself at a much higher risk of developing dementia in later life. The charity advises: “Smoking does a lot of harm to the circulation of blood around the body, particularly the blood vessels in the brain, as well as the heart and lungs.”

Drinking too much alcohol increases your risk of developing dementia – it exposes your brain 1to high levels of harmful chemicals, says the charity.

Finally, you should stay mentally and socially active. The charity says: “Engaging in mental or social activities may help to build up your brain’s ability to cope with disease, relieve stress and improve your mood. This means doing these activities may help to delay, or even prevent, dementia from developing.”

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