Blog | Metabolic Syndrome, a risk factor in dementia

I will start by asking you a simple question that, surely, everyone will know how to answer... what should we do to avoid cholesterol or sugar? You will tell me: eat fruit and vegetables, do physical exercise... in short, lead a healthy life.

But if we change the object of the question and it is; What should we do to take care of our brain? It is very likely that you will only answer me: do mental exercises that keep you active. And, indeed, one of the things we can do is exercise our memory to avoid possible cognitive decline, but what few people relate is that exercising physically and leading a healthy life also has a lot to do with taking care of our brain.

There is still ignorance on the part of the scientific community about the origin of Alzheimer's, but there is consensus on some risk factors that could be related to the onset of this type of dementia. One of them, and which we will talk about in this post, is the Metabolic Syndrome.

What is the metabolic syndrome?

Although there is no single definition for this syndrome, it does encompass a set of vascular risk factors that includes the following: high blood pressure, insulin resistance or diabetes, obesity ... among other factors.

And you will say, but if these risk factors that you describe are those of vascular diseases. Yes, but it is also known that they put the proper functioning of our brain at risk by causing chronic inflammation, which interferes with brain energy metabolism, which favours the deposit of beta amyloid in the brain and, secondarily, which increases the probability of the appearance of mild cognitive impairment and even dementia.

Disturbing data in Spain

To contextualize the prevalence of this syndrome in our country; the number of people who develop metabolic syndrome in Spain increases by 257 daily cases, up to 94,000 new cases per year according to CIBERDEM (Center for Biomedical Research in Diabetes and Associated Metabolic Diseases Network), identifying men over 45 years old as the higher risk profile and with a lower educational level.

And it is that a large part of the population does not give all the value that it should lead to a healthy life in order to avoid vascular and brain complications, now that we already know that this syndrome also influences cognitive deterioration.

How to Identify Metabolic Syndrome

But how can we identify the existence of the metabolic syndrome? For its diagnosis, the simultaneous presence of at least 3 of the following anomalies is required:

  • High blood pressure.
  • Elevated abdominal circumference: more than 88 cm in women and more than 102 cm in men.
  • Elevated levels of triglycerides.
  • Low levels of HDL-type cholesterol.
  • Diabetes.
Take care of our health to take care of our brain

A healthy lifestyle is key to preventing cognitive decline. Each of the components of Metabolic Syndrome, as well as overweight and obesity, has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease, as well as an increased risk of cognitive decline.

In addition, we must bear in mind that the risk increases with age, in such a way that an adequate diet, incorporating carbohydrates, proteins, animal and vegetable fats and fibres; and a healthy lifestyle in which we incorporate regular physical exercise and a control by your doctor can reduce, in part, the appearance of Metabolic Syndrome and its possible consequences.

We all know that aging is also a risk factor for memory loss, but if we lead a healthy lifestyle these memory losses and even mild cognitive impairment can remain in this condition as part of normal aging. On the contrary, if we do not take care of ourselves we could progress to dementia.

Avoid this is in our hands.

Dr. Gemma Ortega

Neuropsichologist at Ace Alzheimer Center Barcelona

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