Researchers have now developed simple tests to predict dementia risk among older women easily

Fareeha Arshad
Photo byPhoto by Danie Franco on Unsplash

A recent study conducted by Australian researchers suggests that measuring grip strength and mobility can be an inexpensive and potentially useful way to gauge dementia risk in older women.

The study involved 1,200 women in their 70s tested for grip strength and mobility using a hand-held dynamometer and a timed-up-and-go test, respectively. The participants' health was tracked using linked health records for the next 14.5 years, during which nearly 17% of the women had been hospitalized with dementia or had died due to a dementia-related cause.

The study found that women who fell into the lowest quartile for grip strength or mobility were more than twice as likely than women in the upper quartile to be hospitalized with or die from dementia later in life. The women with the steepest decline in grip strength and up-and-go measures over five years were at the highest risk of dementia.

These trends were independent of other risk factors, such as a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer's disease, a type of dementia, and risk scores for cardiovascular disease. Incorporating muscle function tests as part of dementia screening could be useful in identifying high-risk individuals who might benefit from primary prevention programs aimed at preventing the onset of the condition, such as a healthy diet and a physically active lifestyle.

People with one copy of the APOE4 gene, a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, are at 2-3 times greater risk of the disease, while that risk increases 10-15 times for people with two copies of the gene. By 2050, the number of people living with dementia will rise to 152 million globally.

A 2020 report by The Lancet identifies physical inactivity, low social contact, less education early in life, hypertension, diabetes, hearing impairment, smoking, obesity, depression, excessive alcohol consumption, traumatic brain injury, and air pollution as the leading preventable risks factors for dementia.

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I am a scientist by profession and a historian by passion. I mostly write about history and science.

Texas State

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