This is a quick story that looks at a health condition that may contribute to memory loss as you grow older. Researchers found that older adults with larger waistlines, high blood pressure, and other factors that make up “metabolic syndrome” may be at a higher risk for memory loss. It is published now in an online issue of “Neurology.”
It’s another look at how to keep an aging brain strong. Metabolic syndrome is a dangerous condition that means you have three or more of these risk factors: high blood pressure; excess belly fat; higher than normal triglycerides (a type of fat found in the blood); high blood sugar; and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol. This syndrome has also been tied to an increased risk of heart attack.
For the study, more than 7,000 adults over 65 from three French cities were tested for metabolic syndrome. A total of 16% of them were discovered to have metabolic syndrome. Participants were given a series of memory and cognitive function tests two and four years later. These included a memory test, a test of visual working memory and a test of “word fluency.”
Researchers found that people who had metabolic syndrome were 20% more likely to have cognitive decline on the memory test than those who were free of the syndrome. People with metabolic syndrome also were 13% more likely to have cognitive decline on the visual working memory test.
And specifically, higher triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol were linked to poorer memory scores. Having diabetes was linked to poorer visual working memory and word fluency scores.
This helps shed light on how metabolic syndrome and its various factors affect our brain’s health. If we can manage the factors that contribute to the syndrome, then we can help slow down age-related memory loss. Or even delay the onset of dementia.