Think you're in poor health? It could increase your odds of dementia

People who rate their health as poor or fair appear to be significantly more likely to develop dementia later in life, according to a study published in the October 5, 2011, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

"Having people rate their own health may be a simple tool for doctors to determine a person's risk of , especially for people with no symptoms or memory problems," said study author Christophe Tzourio, MD, PhD, director of the Inserm unit 708 Neuroepidemiology at the University of Bordeaux 2 in France.

Other studies have shown that people who rate their own health as poor are more likely to die or develop a disease, especially vascular disease such as heart attack or stroke, than people who rate their health as good. The results hold true even after researchers account for other health conditions, such as or .

At the start of the study, 8,169 people age 65 years or older were asked to rate their health and were followed for nearly seven years. During the study, 618 people developed dementia.

The risk of dementia was 70 percent higher in people who rated their health as poor and 34 percent higher in people who rated their health as fair compared to those who rated their health as good.

In addition, the study found that the association between people's health ratings and developing dementia was even stronger for those who did not have any or other issues with thinking skills. Among those with no , those who rated their health as poor were nearly twice as likely to develop dementia as those who rated their health as good.

"We know that having a large social network and social activities are associated with a decreased risk of dementia," said Tzourio. "Therefore, it's possible that rating one's health as poor might be associated with behaviors that limit and in turn accelerate the dementia process."

Related Stories

Keeping up your overall health may keep dementia away

date Jul 13, 2011

Improving and maintaining health factors not traditionally associated with dementia, such as denture fit, vision and hearing, may lower a person's risk for developing dementia, according to a new study published in the July ...

Diabetes may significantly increase your risk of dementia

date Sep 19, 2011

People with diabetes appear to be at a significantly increased risk of developing dementia, according to a study published in the September 20, 2011, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neu ...

Low childhood IQ linked to type of dementia

date Jun 26, 2008

Children with lower IQs are more likely decades later to develop vascular dementia than children with high IQs, according to research published in the June 25, 2008, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the ...

New tool can help predict risk of Alzheimer's in elderly

date May 13, 2009

A new tool can help predict whether people age 65 and older have a high risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Research on the tool is published in the May 13, 2009, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the ...

Recommended for you

Helping stroke patients to regain their independence

date 25 minutes ago

Strokes are the second leading cause of death worldwide; they kill more than one million people in Europe each year accounting for 14% of all deaths. About a third of the 8 million stroke survivors in the ...

Space travel may be bad for your brain – here's why

date 1 hour ago

There is bad news for those planning to go to Mars in the near future: a study in mice has suggested that radiation in space could cause cognitive decline in astronauts. However, we know from past research th ...

Anxiety is not overcome in the brain's fear center

date May 01, 2015

Scientists from the Center for Brain Research at MedUni Vienna are investigating how anxiety is processed and the flow of information in the brain in general: In a study, which has now been published in the ...

Brain scan reveals out-of-body illusion

date Apr 30, 2015

The feeling of being inside one's own body is not as self-evident as one might think. In a new study from Sweden's Karolinska Institutet, neuroscientists created an out-of-body illusion in participants placed ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.