Diabetes, alcohol, smoking, and other cardiovascular disease risk factors, not just
physical fitness, also influence the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. A study
among veterans measured physical fitness with a treadmill test at the average age
of 60 and determined cognitive status based on medical records at an average of 10
years later, at which time 5.8% of the study sample were evaluated to have some
form of cognitive impairment. Those scoring six or lower metabolic equivalents
on their treadmill fitness test had a more than four times greater risk of cognitive
impairment, including Alzheimer disease than those with scores of 12 or higher.
The risk of cognitive impairment dropped 8% with every 1-point increase in exercise
capacity. Smoking, that increased the risk of cognitive impairment by 44%,
age and high cholesterol were identified as risk factors for cognitive decline. The
greater the number of risk factors, age, high BMI, smoking, and low fitness, the
greater the risk of cognitive impairment. At 15 years of follow-up, of those without
any risk factors, very few had dementia or cognitive impairment, whereas, among
those with four risk factors, about one-third had dementia or cognitive impairment.

Diabetes is a risk factor for dementia
Diabetes is a known risk factor for dementia, and higher glucose levels increase the
risk of dementia in people without diabetes. The mechanism by which diabetes
affects cognition is not fully understood, but there is some evidence that vascular
disease secondary to diabetes may be the main culprit rather than an increase in
the plaques and tangles found in Alzheimer disease. A 2017 study found
that overweight and obese participants with type 2 diabetes had more severe and
progressive abnormalities in brain structures and cognition during early-stage type
2 diabetes compared with normal-weight study subjects.

This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel.