DOI: 10.1002/alz.13562 ISSN: 1552-5260

Age at cardiovascular disease onset, dementia risk, and the role of lifestyle factors

April C. E. van Gennip, Thomas T. van Sloten, Aurore Fayosse, Séverine Sabia, Archana Singh‐Manoux
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Neurology (clinical)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Health Policy
  • Epidemiology



We first examined the role of age at cardiovascular disease (CVD) onset for incident dementia, and then examined whether lifestyle factors at guideline‐recommended levels in individuals with CVD mitigates dementia risk.


We used population‐based data (Whitehall II: n = 10,308/baseline 1985–1988/examinations every 4–5 years). Lifestyle factors (non‐smoking, body mass index [BMI], physical activity, diet) were extracted post‐CVD.


Over a median of 31.6 years, 3275 (32.1%) developed CVD. At age 70, risk of dementia was higher in individuals with CVD onset before (hazard ratio [HR] of incident dementia for participants with CVD before age 60, using participants without CVD at age 70 as the reference: 1.56, 95% confidence interal [CI] 1.18–2.08) but not after 60 years. In participants with CVD, a greater number of lifestyle factors at recommended levels post‐CVD was associated with a lower dementia risk (per lifestyle factor at recommended level HR: 0.73, 95% CI 0.59–0.92).


Our results suggest that early onset CVD is associated with a higher dementia risk at older ages. In those with CVD, the dementia risk was lower if lifestyle factors are at recommended levels following CVD diagnosis.


CVD in midlife but not in late life is associated with a higher risk of dementia.

Dementia risk in CVD patients is lower if their lifestyle factors are at recommended levels.

These findings provide evidence to promote CVD prevention in midlife or earlier.

Study findings also show the importance of a healthy lifestyle in those with CVD.

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