Polluted air increases risk of dementia especially if you have cardiovascular disease

People who breathe polluted air are likely to develop senile dementia, especially if they suffer from cardiovascular disease. This conclusion was reached by researchers at the Carolingian Institute in Sweden. Their work has been published in the journal JAMA Neurology.

It is predicted that the number of dementia patients will triple by 2030. There is no effective treatment for this condition, so the search for risk factors and protective measures against the disease is a health priority. Previous studies show that cardiovascular diseases and polluted air are somehow or other related to the development of dementia, but the data are largely insufficient and contradictory.

In a new study, scientists have studied the associations between long-term effect of polluted air and dementia, and the role of cardiovascular disease in this. For 11 years, they observed the health of almost 3000 people, with an average age of 74 years. All participants lived in the central part of Stockholm, where the level of particulate matter in the air was 2.5 μm, which is considered low compared to international standards. During this observation period, 364 participants developed dementia.

"It's interesting that we've been able to establish how air pollution has harmful effects even at low levels," says neurobiologist Julia Grande, lead scientist of the study.

Thus, the team found that in five years of life in an area with polluted air the risk of dementia development increased by 50%. And cardiovascular diseases, such as heart failure and coronary heart disease, reinforced this negative correlation, and stroke explained almost 50% of the dementia associated with air pollution.

"Air pollution is an established risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and since cardiovascular disease accelerates cognitive decline, we believe that polluted air can have an indirect negative impact on cognitive function," says Julia Grande. - This provides additional grounds for reducing emissions and optimizing treatment of related cardiovascular diseases, especially for people living in the most polluted areas of our cities.

April 2, 2020, 9:53 a.m.

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