Does Metabolic Syndrome Matter to Dementia Risk?

Science Update | Does Metabolic Syndrome Matter to Dementia Risk?

What: Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) is used to describe a cluster of symptoms that increase cardiovascular risk, including a high ratio of “belly fat,” hypertension, high cholesterol and hyperglycemia. Researchers in Italy recently published a meta-analysis considering the relationship between Metabolic Syndrome, mild cognitive impairment, and dementia. 9 longitudinal studies with a combined total of approximately 18,000 participants followed on average for 9.4 years were included in the analysis. MetS was found to increase the risk of progression from MCI to dementia, as well as the incidence of vascular-related dementia. However, there was no conclusive relationship found between MetS and incident dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Why This Matters: MetS is a compilation of risk factors that are known to be modifiable by lifestyle and medical management. This study suggests that reducing MetS may in turn lower risk for vascular causes of dementia and, for those with MCI, conversion to dementia.

The Takeaway: Those with MetS concerned about their brain health have yet another reason to address the underlying health factors contributing to MetS, including weight, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Atti AR, Valente S, Iodice A et al. Metabolic Syndrome (MetS), Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and Dementia: a meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Am J of Geriatric Psychiatry. Available online 2/15/2019