Home > Dementia risk, Prevention > Risk Factors for Early-Onset Dementia Identified

Risk Factors for Early-Onset Dementia Identified

Image courtesy Imagerymagestic @ http://www.freedigitalphotos.comOn Aug. 12, Swedish researchers reported on-line in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine that they had identified several risk factors in the development of early-onset dementia (occurring before the age of 65).  They noted that a number of these factors actually first showed up when subjects were in their teens.

In the study, information was gathered regarding a group of men drafted into the Swedish military between the years 1969 and 1979.  They were typically 18 years old when drafted.  Subjects were followed over the course of 37 years.  During this time, 487 men developed young-onset dementia, with an average age of 54.  (I didn’t find any information as to the total number of men enrolled in the study.)

According to researchers, most of the risk factors identified could be traced back to adolescence or young adulthood, and several were determined to be easily preventable.  Lead researcher Peter Nordstrom stated that the most significant risk factor identified was alcohol abuse.  Other risk factors identified included drug abuse, use of antipsychotic medications, stroke, depression, having a father with dementia, poor mental function as a teen, being short, and having high blood pressure.

Study authors theorized that these factors, when taken together, accounted for 68% of all cases of early-onset dementia.  They went on to speculate that men who had at least two of these risk factors, combined with being in the lower third of mental ability, had as much as 20% greater risk.

I agree that the results of this study are very significant.  However, like all studies, it should be replicated with a larger and more varied study group.  Many of these factors are certainly controllable (for example, alcohol and drug abuse), but I’m not sure how being short enters into this picture.  Regardless, I think this is a worthwhile effort, and one worth watching.  I have encountered too many persons who developed dementia at an early age, and it would be nice to see this number grow smaller.

Source:  http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=172604

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