Objective To test the hypotheses that physical activity in midlife is not associated with a reduced risk of dementia and that the preclinical phase of dementia is characterised by a decline in physical activity.
Design Prospective cohort study with a mean follow-up of 27 years.
Setting Civil service departments in London (Whitehall II study).
Participants 10 308 participants aged 35-55 years at study inception (1985-88). Exposures included time spent in mild, moderate to vigorous, and total physical activity assessed seven times between 1985 and 2013 and categorised as “recommended” if duration of moderate to vigorous physical activity was 2.5 hours/week or more.
Main outcome measures A battery of cognitive tests was administered up to four times from 1997 to 2013, and incident dementia cases (n=329) were identified through linkage to hospital, mental health services, and mortality registers until 2015.
Results Mixed effects models showed no association between physical activity and subsequent 15 year cognitive decline. Similarly, Cox regression showed no association between physical activity and risk of dementia over an average 27 year follow-up (hazard ratio in the “recommended” physical activity category 1.00, 95% confidence interval 0.80 to 1.24). For trajectories of hours/week of total, mild, and moderate to vigorous physical activity in people with dementia compared with those without dementia (all others), no differences were observed between 28 and 10 years before diagnosis of dementia. However, physical activity in people with dementia began to decline up to nine years before diagnosis (difference in moderate to vigorous physical activity −0.39 hours/week; P=0.05), and the difference became more pronounced (−1.03 hours/week; P=0.005) at diagnosis.
Conclusion This study found no evidence of a neuroprotective effect of physical activity. Previous findings showing a lower risk of dementia in physically active people may be attributable to reverse causation—that is, due to a decline in physical activity levels in the preclinical phase of dementia.
Reference: BMJ 2017;357:j2709
Cardiovascular risk factors are associated with an increased risk of dementia. We assessed whether a multidomain intervention targeting these factors can prevent dementia in a population of community-dwelling older people.
In this open-label, cluster-randomised controlled trial, we recruited individuals aged 70–78 years through participating general practices in the Netherlands. General practices within each health-care centre were randomly assigned (1:1), via a computer-generated randomisation sequence, to either a 6-year nurse-led, multidomain cardiovascular intervention or control (usual care). The primary outcomes were cumulative incidence of dementia and disability score (Academic Medical Center Linear Disability Score [ALDS]) at 6 years of follow-up. The main secondary outcomes were incident cardiovascular disease and mortality. Outcome assessors were masked to group assignment. Analyses included all participants with available outcome data. This trial is registered with ISRCTN, number ISRCTN29711771.
Between June 7, 2006, and March 12, 2009, 116 general practices (3526 participants) within 26 health-care centres were recruited and randomly assigned: 63 (1890 participants) were assigned to the intervention group and 53 (1636 participants) to the control group. Primary outcome data were obtained for 3454 (98%) participants; median follow-up was 6·7 years (21 341 person-years). Dementia developed in 121 (7%) of 1853 participants in the intervention group and in 112 (7%) of 1601 participants in the control group (hazard ratio [HR] 0·92, 95% CI 0·71–1·19; p=0·54). Mean ALDS scores measured during follow-up did not differ between groups (85·7 [SD 6·8] in the intervention group and 85·7 [7·1] in the control group; adjusted mean difference −0·02, 95% CI −0·38 to 0·42; p=0·93). 309 (16%) of 1885 participants died in the intervention group, compared with 269 (16%) of 1634 participants in the control group (HR 0·98, 95% CI 0·80–1·18; p=0·81). Incident cardiovascular disease did not differ between groups (273 [19%] of 1469 participants in the intervention group and 228 [17%] of 1307 participants in the control group; HR 1·06, 95% CI 0·86–1·31; p=0·57).
A nurse-led, multidomain intervention did not result in a reduced incidence of all-cause dementia in an unselected population of older people. This absence of effect might have been caused by modest baseline cardiovascular risks and high standards of usual care. Future studies should assess the efficacy of such interventions in selected populations.
Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport; Dutch Innovation Fund of Collaborative Health Insurances; and Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development.
The Lancet, Volume 388, No. 10046, p797–805, 20 August 2016
Objective To determine whether higher cumulative use of benzodiazepines is associated with a higher risk of dementia or more rapid cognitive decline.
Design Prospective population based cohort.
Setting Integrated healthcare delivery system, Seattle, Washington.
Participants 3434 participants aged ≥65 without dementia at study entry. There were two rounds of recruitment (1994-96 and 2000-03) followed by continuous enrollment beginning in 2004.
Main outcomes measures The cognitive abilities screening instrument (CASI) was administered every two years to screen for dementia and was used to examine cognitive trajectory. Incident dementia and Alzheimer’s disease were determined with standard diagnostic criteria. Benzodiazepine exposure was defined from computerized pharmacy data and consisted of the total standardized daily doses (TSDDs) dispensed over a 10 year period (a rolling window that moved forward in time during follow-up). The most recent year was excluded because of possible use for prodromal symptoms. Multivariable Cox proportional hazard models were used to examine time varying use of benzodiazepine and dementia risk. Analyses of cognitive trajectory used linear regression models with generalized estimating equations.
Results Over a mean follow-up of 7.3 years, 797 participants (23.2%) developed dementia, of whom 637 developed Alzheimer’s disease. For dementia, the adjusted hazard ratios associated with cumulative benzodiazepine use compared with non-use were 1.25 (95% confidence interval 1.03 to 1.51) for 1-30 TSDDs; 1.31 (1.00 to 1.71) for 31-120 TSDDs; and 1.07 (0.82 to 1.39) for ≥121 TSDDs. Results were similar for Alzheimer’s disease. Higher benzodiazepine use was not associated with more rapid cognitive decline.
Conclusion The risk of dementia is slightly higher in people with minimal exposure to benzodiazepines but not with the highest level of exposure. These results do not support a causal association between benzodiazepine use and dementia.
By Shelly L Gray et al, BMJ 2016;352:i90