Vascular risk factors in early adulthood linked to late-life cognitive decline

As mounting evidence points to the link between cardiovascular disease and dementia, a new study led by UC San Francisco finds that young adulthood may be the most critical period to practice the healthy lifestyle habits that may protect the brain from cognitive decline decades later. 

The study found that high body mass index (BMI), high glucose and hypertension in early adulthood – risk factors that are linked to unhealthy diet, smoking and sedentary lifestyle – were associated with the greatest change in cognition in late life compared with other stages of adulthood. These risks factors amounted to a doubling of the average rate of cognitive decline, the researchers found in their study, publishing in the online issue of Neurology on March 17, 2021.

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