Your Health Rating Heightens Dementia Risk

Dementia risk increased for those who think they are in poor health

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) There may be some power in negative thinking. Older individuals who rate their health as fair or poor are more likely to develop dementia later in life.

Previous studies had found that people who rated their health as poor were more likely to die or develop a disease as compared to those who rate their health as good.

"If you think you're in poor health, talk to your doctor or therapist."

Dr. Christophe Tzourio, study author and the director of the Inserm unit 708 Neuroepidemiology at the University of Bordeaux 2 in France, said that asking patients to rate their own health may be a simple tool to determine a person's risk of dementia, especially in those with no symptoms or memory problems.

During the study, 8,169 participants over the age of 65 were asked by researchers to rate their health, and then were followed for seven years. Of those, 618 later developed dementia.

Investigators determined that the risk of developing dementia in participants who had rated their health as poor was 70 percent higher than those who rated their health as good. In patients who rated their health as fair, the risk was 34 percent higher.

They also found that the link between health ratings and developing dementia was stronger in participants that did not have any memory problems or issues with thinking skills.Overall, patients without cognitive problems who rated their health as poor were almost twice as likely to develop dementia as compared to those who rated their health good.

Dr. Tzourio said it's known that having large social networks and engaging in plenty of social activities is associated with a decreased risk of dementia. With that in mind, he said it might be possible that a self-given poor health rating is linked to behaviors that limit social interaction, accelerating the dementia process.

The study was published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

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Review Date: 
October 11, 2011
Last Updated:
October 16, 2011