Nav: Home

Air pollution linked to dementia and cardiovascular disease

March 30, 2020

People continuously exposed to air pollution are at increased risk of dementia, especially if they also suffer from cardiovascular diseases, according to a study at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden published in the journal JAMA Neurology. Therefore, patients with cardiovascular diseases who live in polluted environments may require additional support from care providers to prevent dementia, according to the researchers.

The number of people living with dementia is projected to triple in the next 30 years. No curative treatment has been identified and the search for modifiable risk and protective factors remains a public health priority. Recent studies have linked both cardiovascular disease and air pollution to the development of dementia, but findings on the air pollution-link have been scarce and inconsistent.

In this study, the researchers examined the link between long-term exposure to air pollution and dementia and what role cardiovascular diseases play in that association. Almost 3,000 adults with an average age of 74 and living in the Kungsholmen district in central Stockholm were followed for up to 11 years. Of those, 364 people developed dementia. The annual average level of particulate matter 2.5 microns or less in width (PM2.5) are considered low compared to international standards.

"Interestingly, we were able to establish harmful effects on human health at levels below current air pollution standards," says first author Giulia Grande, researcher at the Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society at Karolinska Institutet. "Our findings suggest air pollution does play a role in the development of dementia, and mainly through the intermediate step of cardiovascular disease and especially stroke."

For the last five years of exposure, the risk of dementia increased by more than 50 percent per interquartile range (IQR) difference in mean PM2.5 levels and by 14 percent per IQR in nitrogen oxide. Earlier exposures seemed less important. Heart failure and ischemic heart disease both enhanced the dementia risk and stroke explained almost 50 percent of air pollution-related dementia cases, according to the researchers.

"Air pollution is an established risk factor for cardiovascular health and because CVD accelerates cognitive decline, we believe exposure to air pollution might negatively affect cognition indirectly," says Giulia Grande. "In our study, virtually all of the association of air pollution with dementia seemed to be through the presence or the development of CVD, adding more reason to reduce emissions and optimize treatment of concurrent CVD and related risk factors, particularly for people living in the most polluted areas of our cities.
-end-
The study was funded by the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care in Kungsholmen, the Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, the Swedish Research Council, Karolinska Institutet's funding for doctoral education and the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare.

Publication: "The role of cardiovascular disease in the association of long-term exposure to air pollution and the risk of dementia," Giulia Grande, Petter L.S. Ljungman, Kristina Eneroth, Tom Bellander, Debora Rizzuto, JAMA Neurology, online March 30, 2020, doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2019.4914

Karolinska Institutet

Related Dementia Articles:

PTSD may double risk of dementia
People who have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are up to twice as likely to develop dementia later in life, according to a new study by UCL researchers, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
Dementia education
School-based dementia education could deliver much needed empathy and understanding for older generations as new research from the University of South Australia shows it can significantly improve dementia knowledge and awareness among younger generations.
Building dementia friendly churches
A project to help church communities become more 'dementia friendly' has had a significant impact across the country.
A "feeling" for dementia?
A research team led by the DZNE concludes that personal perception can be an important indicator for the early detection of Alzheimer's disease.
New biomarker for dementia diagnosis
Medical researchers in the UK and Australia have identified a new marker which could support the search for novel preventative and therapeutic treatments for dementia.
Digital solutions for dementia care
Telehealth delivery of dementia care in the home can be as effective as face-to-face home visit services if carers and recipients take advantage of the technologies available, Australian researchers say.
Despite a marked reduction in the prevalence of dementia, the number of people with dementia is set to double by 2050 according to new Alzheimer Europe report
Today, at a European Parliament lunch debate, Alzheimer Europe launched a new report presenting the findings of its collaborative analysis of recent prevalence studies and setting out updated prevalence rates for dementia in Europe.
Inflammatory marker linked to dementia
Higher levels of an inflammatory marker, sCD14, were associated with brain atrophy, cognitive decline and dementia in two large heart studies.
How likely do you think you are to develop dementia?
A poll suggests almost half of adults ages 50 to 64 believe they're likely to develop dementia.
Latest issue of Alzheimer's & Dementia
Predicting heart disease might also be a warning sign for Alzheimer's; A new way to think about the environment and Alzheimer's research; Most dementia patients don't receive care from physicians who specialize in brain health.
More Dementia News and Dementia Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Warped Reality
False information on the internet makes it harder and harder to know what's true, and the consequences have been devastating. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around technology and deception. Guests include law professor Danielle Citron, journalist Andrew Marantz, and computer scientist Joy Buolamwini.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

How to Win Friends and Influence Baboons
Baboon troops. We all know they're hierarchical. There's the big brutish alpha male who rules with a hairy iron fist, and then there's everybody else. Which is what Meg Crofoot thought too, before she used GPS collars to track the movements of a troop of baboons for a whole month. What she and her team learned from this data gave them a whole new understanding of baboon troop dynamics, and, moment to moment, who really has the power.  This episode was reported and produced by Annie McEwen. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.