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Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2007;23(1):29-34. Epub 2006 Oct 27.

Metabolic syndrome and cognitive function: a population-based follow-up study in elderly women.

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Kuopio Research Institute of Exercise Medicine, Department of Physiology, University of Kuopio, Kuopio, Finland.



To test the hypothesis that metabolic syndrome predicts cognitive impairment, and to examine the association of single metabolic risk factors with cognitive functioning.


We performed a 12-year follow-up study in a population-based sample of 101 women aged 60-70 years at baseline. Metabolic syndrome was defined by the National Cholesterol Education Program criteria (> or =3 out of 5 risk factors). Global cognitive function was measured by the Mini-Mental State Examination both at baseline and follow-up. A detailed neuropsychological evaluation for memory and cognitive speed was performed at follow-up.


The prevalence of metabolic syndrome increased from 13% at baseline to 49% at follow-up (p < 0.001). Women with metabolic syndrome at baseline had a 4.27 (95% confidence interval: 1.02-17.90; p = 0.047) times higher risk of poor memory at follow-up after adjustment for age, education and depression. The increasing number of metabolic risk factors was associated with worsening of memory at follow-up (p = 0.034 for linear trend). Women with low baseline levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol were more likely to have poor memory at follow-up than those with higher HDL levels (p = 0.028). The risk of having poor memory increased by 46.5% (95% confidence interval: 15-66%; p = 0.008) with 1 SD decrease in HDL cholesterol level.


In elderly women, metabolic syndrome may be an important contributor to worsening of memory, which is an essential part of mild cognitive impairment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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