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Self–reported poor health linked to later dementia

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Researchers from the American Academy of Neurology have found people who say their own health is poor are more likely to develop dementia.

The finding from the investigation links self-reported poor health to a 70 percent higher chance of developing dementia, compared to people who say their health is good.

The chances of dementia were 34 percent higher for people who say they are in fair health, found the researchers.

Poor overall health without memory problems linked to higher chance of dementia

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“Having people rate their own health may be a simple tool for doctors to determine a person’s risk of dementia, especially for people with no symptoms or memory problems,” said study author Christophe Tzourio, MD, PhD, director of the Inserm unit 708 Neuroepidemiology at the University of Bordeaux 2 in France.

For their study, the researchers asked 8,169 people age 65 year to rate their health. The participants were followed for 7 years – 618 developed dementia.

People in the study who had no memory or thinking problems were found to have an even higher chance of developing dementia.

“We know that having a large social network and social activities are associated with a decreased risk of dementia,” said Tzourio. “Therefore, it’s possible that rating one’s health as poor might be associated with behaviors that limit social interaction and in turn accelerate the dementia process.”

The researchers note other studies have shown people who report their own health is poor have are more likely to have stroke or heart attack. The new finding links self-reported poor health to higher risk of developing dementia, even in people with no memory or thinking problems.