A team of researchers have developed a new method to predict dementia risk that could help to identify individuals who might benefit from intensive lifestyle consultations and drug interventions. They publish their findings online today (Thursday August 3, 2006) in The Lancet Neurology.
Risk scores have already been developed to predict the risk of cardiovascular events, diabetes, and mortality. They enable preventive measures to be targeted to those most at risk of the disease and can be used to distribute easily understandable information about risk factors to the general population. Miia Kivipelto and colleagues aimed to develop a simple technique to predict the late risk of dementia on the basis of risk factors present in middle age.
The researchers used data reported in the population-based CAIDE study, which assessed 1409 individuals in midlife and again 20 years later for signs of dementia. Kivipelto's team studied several midlife risk factors to develop the dementia risk score, such as systolic blood pressure, body-mass index, cholesterol levels, smoking, and physical activity.
Kivipelto's team found that their risk score predicted dementia well. Future dementia was associated with high age, low education, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and obesity.
Since there is no cure for dementia-related diseases, primary prevention is important. If doctors can predict future risk of dementia then they can initiate preventive measures early for risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels and obesity.