Age, marital status, BMI and sleep associated with risk for dementia

May 8, 2018, Boston University School of Medicine
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Could your age, marital status, BMI (body mass index) and amount of sleep impact your risk for dementia?

Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) analyzed data from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) to identify new combinations of risk factors that are linked to increased risk of in later life.

"This study is the first step in applying machine learning approaches to identifying new combinations of factors that are linked to increased risk of dementia later in life. "By focusing on modifiable risk factors, we are hoping to identify disease risk factors that are amenable to change, enabling the possibility of preventing dementia," explained corresponding author Rhoda Au, PhD, professor of anatomy and neurobiology.

Using data from FHS, the researchers examined demographic and lifestyle data collected from 1979 until 1983 and then determined who was subsequently diagnosed with dementia. As expected, greater age was strongly associated with dementia as was a of 'widowed,' lower BMI and having experienced less sleep at mid-life.

Dementia is the leading cause of dependence and disability in the elderly population worldwide. Currently there is no effective medication for dementia treatment. Therefore, identifying life-related risk factors including some that are modifiable may provide important strategies for reducing risk of dementia.

According to the researchers what makes this approach unique is their focus on information that is readily available to any primary care physician and doesn't require specialized training or expensive testing, as well as using machine learning to help identify these factors.

"We wanted to identify information that any physician or even non-physician has easy access to in determining potential increased future risk for dementia. Most dementia screening tools require specialized training or testing, but the front line for screening are primary care physicians or family members. This was also an initial attempt to apply machine learning methods to identify ," said Au.

The researchers believe there are potential downstream implications for this study. "Demographic and lifestyle factors that are non-invasive and inexpensive to implement can be assessed in midlife and used to potentially modify the of dementia in late adulthood."

These findings appear in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Explore further: Dementia trend shows later onset with fewer years of the disease

Related Stories

Dementia trend shows later onset with fewer years of the disease

April 23, 2018
The diagnosis is one that a family never wants to hear: Your father has Alzheimer's disease. Your mother has stroke-related dementia.

Older adults who have slower walking speeds may have increased risk for dementia

March 23, 2018
As of 2015, nearly 47 million people around the world had dementia, a memory problem significant enough to affect your ability to carry out your usual tasks. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, but other ...

Lack of REM sleep may lead to higher risk for dementia

August 23, 2017
Spending less time in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and taking longer to enter REM sleep are separately associated with a higher risk of developing dementia.

Largest study of its kind finds alcohol use biggest risk factor for dementia

February 21, 2018
Alcohol use disorders are the most important preventable risk factors for the onset of all types of dementia, especially early-onset dementia. This according to a nationwide observational study, published in The Lancet Public ...

Dementia increases the risk of 30-day readmission to the hospital after discharge

February 23, 2018
About 25 percent of older adults admitted to hospitals have dementia and are at increased risk for serious problems like in-hospital falls and delirium (the medical term for an abrupt, rapid change in mental function). As ...

TBI is associated with increased dementia risk for decades after injury

January 30, 2018
Traumatic brain injuries increase the risk of a dementia diagnosis for more than 30 years after a trauma, though the risk of dementia decreases over time, according to a new study published this week in PLOS Medicine by Anna ...

Recommended for you

Hypothesis underpinning dementia research 'flawed'

October 16, 2018
A hypothesis which has been the standard way of explaining how the body develops Alzheimer's Disease for almost 30 years is flawed, according to a University of Manchester biologist.

Study suggests biological basis for depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances in older adults

October 15, 2018
UC San Francisco researchers, in collaboration with the unique Brazilian Biobank for Aging Studies (BBAS) at the University of São Paulo, have shown that the earliest stages of the brain degeneration associated with Alzheimer's ...

Many cases of dementia may arise from non-inherited DNA 'spelling mistakes'

October 15, 2018
Only a small proportion of cases of dementia are thought to be inherited—the cause of the vast majority is unknown. Now, in a study published today in the journal Nature Communications, a team of scientists led by researchers ...

Scientists create new map of brain region linked to Alzheimer's disease

October 8, 2018
Curing some of the most vexing diseases first requires navigating the world's most complex structure—the human brain. So, USC scientists have created the most detailed atlas yet of the brain's memory bank.

Previously unknown genetic aberrations found to be associated with Alzheimer's progression

October 8, 2018
In a large-scale analysis of RNA from postmortem human brain tissue, researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Columbia University have identified specific RNA splicing events associated with Alzheimer's ...

Periodontal disease bacteria may kick-start Alzheimer's

October 4, 2018
Long-term exposure to periodontal disease bacteria causes inflammation and degeneration of brain neurons in mice that is similar to the effects of Alzheimer's disease in humans, according to a new study from researchers at ...

0 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.