A spectrum of heart-stressing symptoms called metabolic syndrome raises the risk of dementia, researchers said on Tuesday.
“To our knowledge, this is the first study to document that the metabolic syndrome is associated with poor cognitive outcomes,” Dr. Kristine Yaffe of the University of California, San Francisco, wrote in this week’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The American Heart Association defines metabolic syndrome as having three of five risk factors: a top blood pressure reading of more than 130; a blood glucose level of 120 or more that can indicate risk for diabetes; high triglyceride levels; low levels of high-density lipoprotein, or “good” cholesterol; and a large waist.
In the study of 2,600 patients averaging 74 years of age, those with metabolic syndrome had a 20 percent higher risk of mental impairment compared with those who did not have it.
When the syndrome was accompanied by high levels of interleukin 6 and C-reactive proteins in the bloodstream, which are markers for inflammation in the cardiovascular system, the risk of dementia was 66 percent higher.
Study participants who had metabolic syndrome but low levels of the inflammatory proteins did not show an increased likelihood of mental impairment.
“Future studies will need to address whether preventing the metabolic syndrome or lowering inflammation prevents cognitive impairment in elderly individuals,” Yaffe wrote.