A study in Finland found that those who had better scores on standard metrics of cardiovascular health in midlife, especially for behavioural factors such as smoking, had a lower risk of dementia later in life. Yajun Liang of Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine.
The researchers found that participants with intermediate or ideal cardiovascular health scores from midlife onwards, especially for behavioural factors, had a lower risk of dementia later in life than participants with poor scores.
When looking specifically at biological factors, ideal scores in late life were actually associated with a greater risk of dementia. The authors note that this could be because some biological hallmarks of dementia might overlap with "ideal" scores on these factors, such as lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol.
These findings suggest that maintaining lifelong cardiovascular health, particularly in the areas of smoking, exercise, and body mass index, could reduce dementia risk later in life.