People with Mild Cognitive Impairment who have diabetes, depression, or low levels of vitamin B12 are at an increased risk of progressing to dementia, according to research published in the American Journal of Psychiatry today (20 February 2015).
Academics led by Professor Gill Livingston at University College London conducted a systematic review of 62 research studies looking at the rates of conversion to dementia in almost 16,000 people with (Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Amongst the factors investigated, the study revealed that:
- Diabetes significantly increases the risk of progression from MCI to dementia
- Those with symptoms of depression are more likely to covert from MCI to dementia
- Heavy alcohol use predicts greater likelihood of progressing from MCI to dementia but the evidence looking at moderate alcohol use was inconsistent
- Following a Mediterranean diet decreases the risk of developing dementia in people with MCI
- Lower vitamin B12 levels predicted a greater risk of conversion from MCI to dementia
Alzheimer’s Society comment:
Dr Clare Walton, Research Manager at Alzheimer’s Society said:
‘Dementia isn’t a natural part of ageing, but for those with mild memory problems it can be hugely stressful not knowing whether they are experiencing normal age-related changes or the start of something more serious. This comprehensive study involving data from almost 16,000 people helps us begin to predict when mild memory problems are more likely to develop into dementia and, more importantly, suggest lifestyle changes that people can make to potentially lower their risk of developing the condition.
‘The findings suggest that diabetes and low levels of vitamin B12 are associated with an increased risk of mild memory problems developing into dementia. While there’s currently no cure, we know that the best way to reduce your dementia risk is to eat a Mediterranean diet rich in oily fish and vegetables, keep physically active, not smoke and have your blood pressure regularly checked.’