Clinically Significant Anxiety Tied to Subsequent Dementia Risk

Review of four studies shows positive link for clinically significant anxiety in midlife, future dementia
Review of four studies shows positive link for clinically significant anxiety in midlife, future dementia

HealthDay News — Clinically significant anxiety in midlife is associated with increased subsequent dementia risk over an interval of at least 10 years, according to a review published online April 30 in BMJ Open.

Amy Gimson, from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a systematic review of the literature on anxiety diagnosis and long-term dementia risk. Data were included from four studies, which measured clinically significant anxiety in isolation or after controlling for symptoms of depression. The mean interval from assessment of anxiety to dementia diagnosis was at least 10 years. 

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The combined sample size was 29,819. The researchers observed a positive correlation between clinically significant anxiety and future dementia in all studies. A meta-analysis was not conducted due to the heterogeneity between the studies.

"These findings indicate that anxiety may be a risk factor for late-life dementia, excluding anxiety that is related to prodromal cognitive decline," the authors write. "With increasing focus on identifying modifiable risk factors for dementia, more high-quality prospective studies are required to clarify whether clinical anxiety is a risk factor for dementia, separate from a prodromal symptom."

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