The raised blood pressure of hypertension can be minimized with age by staying thin and active, type 2 diabetes is near entirely avoidable via much the same strategy, and smoking is just a bad idea. There is a mountain of evidence in each case for these outcomes to negatively impact health and lead to an earlier death. The work here is a reminder that if you want your mind to corrode somewhat more rapidly than would otherwise be the case, there exists a range of bad lifestyle choices that can achieve that goal.
A recent study involved 2,675 people with an average age of 50 who did not have dementia. Researchers measured their cardiovascular risk factors at the start of the study: 43% were considered obese, 31% had high blood pressure, 15% were smokers, 11% had diabetes, and 9% had high cholesterol. Participants were given thinking and memory tests at the beginning of the study and five years later. Then researchers estimated the association of the five cardiovascular risk factors with decline in their performance on the thinking and memory tests that was not defined as dementia, but was faster than what was seen in a group of adults of similar ages.
Five percent of the participants had accelerated cognitive decline over five years. A total of 7.5% of those with high blood pressure had faster decline, compared to 4.3% of those who did not have high blood pressure. And 10.3% of those with diabetes had faster decline, compared to 4.7% of those who did not have diabetes. A total of 7.7% of current smokers had faster decline, compared to 4.3% of those who never smoked.
After adjusting for age, race, education, and other factors that could affect the risk of cognitive decline, researchers found that people who smoked were 65% more likely to have accelerated cognitive decline, those with high blood pressure were 87% more likely and those with diabetes had a nearly three times as likely to have accelerated cognitive decline. People who had one or two of the risk factors were nearly twice as likely to have accelerated decline than people with no risk factors. People with three or more of the risk factors were nearly three times as likely to have faster decline than those with no risk factors.