MentallyHealth.Org

Study compares effect on HT status in mid, late life on dementia risk

July 15, 2017

This study is part of an ongoing body of research at Kaiser Permanente to better understand the modifiable risk factors for dementia. Dr. Whitmer has led several dementia-related studies that utilize multiphasic health data collected in the 1960s and 1970s by Kaiser Permanente Health Information Technology pioneer Dr. Morris Collen on thousands of Kaiser Permanente Northern California men and women during routine health check-ups. That multiphasic data used for research studies decades later has revealed these key findings: heavy smoking in midlife is associated with a 157 percent increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and a 172 percent increased risk of developing vascular dementia; a larger abdomen in midlife increases risk of late-life dementia; and elevated cholesterol levels in midlife significantly increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia later in life. Another study by Dr. Whitmer showed that low blood sugar events in elderly patients with type 2 diabetes increase their risk for dementia. A study led by Valerie Crooks of Kaiser Permanente in Southern California found that having a strong social network of friends and family appears to decrease the risk of dementia.

Limitations of this most recent study include the fact that HT information in midlife was self-reported and therefore researchers do not know the dose or type of HT involved. Also, because the pharmacy database was initiated in 1994, researchers do not have information on the duration of midlife HT.

Source: GolinHarris International