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Cardiovascular risk factors and cognitive decline in older people with type 2 diabetes

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1637-1645
Issue number7
Early online date7 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: The aim of this work was to assess the role of well-established cardiovascular risk factors in the late-life cognitive decline of patients with type 2 diabetes.

METHODS: Data from 831 participants (aged 60-75 years) attending the 4 year follow-up of the Edinburgh Type 2 Diabetes Study (ET2DS) were used. Smoking history (pack-years), BP, HbA1c, plasma glucose and cholesterol were determined at baseline clinics (single time measurements) and/or from serial data recorded on a clinical management database from diagnosis until recruitment ('historical' data). Principal component analysis derived a factor, g, of general ability from seven cognitive tests. Linear regression models of follow-up g were adjusted for baseline g to represent 4 year cognitive change. 'Accelerated late-life cognitive decline' was defined as scoring in the lowest tertile of '4 year cognitive change' regression scores. Analyses controlled for age and sex.

RESULTS: A baseline history of moderate/heavy smoking (≥10 pack-years) and a 1% increased historical HbA1c (equivalent to an increase by 11 mmol/mol) predicted a 64% (OR 1.64; 95% CI 1.14, 2.34; p = 0.007) and 21% (OR 1.21; 95% CI 1.00, 1.45; p = 0.046) increased risk of accelerated cognitive decline, respectively. When treated as continuous measures, higher pack-years, historical HbA1c and historical BP emerged as significant independent predictors of 4 year decline in g (standardised β range -0.07 to -0.14; all p ≤ 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: Increased smoking and poorer glycaemic control (with relatively weaker findings for BP) during the life-course were independently associated with accelerated late-life cognitive decline. Where possible, evaluation is warranted of these risk factors as targets for intervention to reduce the burden of cognitive impairment in diabetes.

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