Midlife demographic and lifestyle characteristics and dementia in the Framingham heart study offspring cohort
MetadataShow full item record
BACKGROUND: Dementia is the leading cause of dependence and disability in the elderly population worldwide. Effectively addressing the growing burden of dementia requires an understanding of the predictors of dementia in order to develop preventive strategies. Therefore, identifying potential associations between certain demographic and lifestyle characteristics and dementia may illuminate strategies for reducing the risk of dementia. This research analysis aims to highlight associations between demographic and lifestyle factors in midlife and dementia in later adulthood. METHODS: This is a secondary analysis of data that was collected as part of a longitudinal, prospective cohort study. Data from the Framingham offspring cohort was analyzed using the Cox proportional hazards regression model to examine the associations between the demographic and lifestyle characteristics and the risk of developing dementia. The multivariate analysis controlled for medical history factors that may also impact dementia risk. RESULTS: There were 2462 dementia-free participants (aged ≥ 40 and ≤ 65 years) at baseline at the time of the 2nd exam cycle, during which all demographic, lifestyle, and medical history factors were collected. During the follow-up period, 286 dementia events were observed (11% of participants). In univariate models, advanced age was significantly associated with an increased risk of dementia, while education level, alcohol use (vs. no use), and wine consumption demonstrated statistically significant protective effects against the development of dementia. After controlling for medical history in the multivariate model, older age remained a significant risk factor for dementia. CONCLUSION: This study supports established research regarding the relationship between advancing age and increased risk of dementia, and this significant association remained constant when controlling for factors such as gender and medical history. Further, the associations observed between alcohol consumption, and specifically wine, and dementia risk support continued research on alcohol use and its relationship with dementia; while these protective effects did not remain statistically significant in the multivariate model, other studies have observed significant associations between alcohol and dementia risk in adjusted analyses. Additional research would be helpful to further examine if there are any potential protective effects of alcohol, and determine whether consumption is a worthwhile preventative strategy. Overall, identifying potential risk factors for dementia is an important focus of study, due to the aging worldwide population, and the corresponding increasing significance of this disease. This analysis adds to the literature regarding the associations between certain demographic and lifestyle characteristics and the risk of dementia.