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Neuropsychol Dev Cogn B Aging Neuropsychol Cogn. 2008 Sep;15(5):627-41. doi: 10.1080/13825580802036936. Epub 2008 May 16.

Metabolic syndrome and cognitive function in healthy middle-aged and older adults without diabetes.

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Department of Preventive Medicine, USC Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA 90089-9010, USA.



Few studies have addressed whether the metabolic syndrome (MetS) and its individual components are associated with cognitive function in middle-aged and older populations, as well as whether specific areas of cognition are more affected than others. We examined the cross-sectional association between MetS and six areas of cognitive function in healthy cognitively intact adults without diabetes (n = 853, mean age 61 years) randomized in two intervention trials.


The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) criteria were used to identify subjects with MetS. Cognitive function was assessed with a neuropsychological battery. A principal components analysis was used to extract five uncorrelated factors interpreted to represent five areas of cognition, and a measure of global cognition was calculated.


MetS was weakly but non-significantly associated with lower verbal learning (beta = -.14 [SE(beta) = 0.09], p = .15). As the number of MetS criteria increased, scores on global cognition (p trend = .01), verbal learning (p trend = .06) and semantic memory (p trend = .04) decreased. Hypertension was the only MetS risk factor that was independently correlated with lower verbal learning (beta = -.17 [SE(beta) = 0.08], p = .04), semantic memory (beta = -.26 [SE(beta) = 0.08], p = .001) and global cognition (beta = -.15 [SE(beta) = 0.07], p = .04).


This study adds to the evidence of an association between MetS and lower cognitive function among healthy middle-aged and older adults without CVD and diabetes, as well as confirms the correlation between hypertension and lower cognition.

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