Associations of the metabolic syndrome and its components with cognitive impairment in older adults


  • I. Feinkohl
  • J. Janke
  • D. Hadzidiakos
  • A. Slooter
  • G. Winterer
  • C. Spies
  • T. Pischon


  • BMC Geriatrics


  • BMC Geriatr 19 (1): 77


  • BACKGROUND: The metabolic syndrome (MetS) is an established cardiovascular risk factor. Here, we investigated its role in cognitive impairment. METHODS: Baseline data from 202 participants (aged 65 to 87 years) of the BioCog study were used. All were free of clinical dementia (MMSE≥24/30). Cognitive impairment was defined as the lowest tertile of a cognitive summary score. Multiple logistic regression analyses examined associations of body mass index (BMI), triglycerides (TG), high-density lipoprotein (HDL-C), glucose and glycated hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels with the odds of cognitive impairment. MetS was defined as ≥3 of its 5 components obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2), elevated TG (TG ≥1.7 mmol/L), reduced HDL-C (males: < 1.0 mmol/L; females: < 1.3 mmol/L), elevated glucose (glucose ≥5.5 mmol/L and/or diagnosed diabetes) and elevated blood pressure (history of hypertension). Analyses controlled for age, sex and smoking history. RESULTS: Lower HDL-C was significantly associated with a higher odds of cognitive impairment (OR 2.70 per 1 mmol/L reduction; 95% CI 1.25, 5.56; p = 0.011), whereas BMI, TG, glucose and HbA1c were not (all p > 0.05). Results for HDL-C were similar when HDL-C, glucose, BMI and TG were entered into a single model (OR 2.56 per 1 mmol/L reduction, 95% CI 1.09, 5.88, p = 0.031) and when cerebrovascular disease and coronary heart disease were additionally controlled for (OR 2.56 per 1 mmol/L reduction, 95% CI 1.06, 6.25, p = 0.036). Among the 5 MetS components, participants with elevated TG were at 2-fold increased odds of impairment (OR 2.09, 95% CI 1.08, 4.05, p = 0.028) including when the remaining 4 MetS components were entered (OR 2.23, 95% CI 1.07, 4.65, p = 0.033), but the finding was no longer statistically significant when cerebrovascular disease and coronary heart disease were additionally controlled for (p = 0.11). Presence of MetS and of obesity, reduced HDL-C, elevated glucose or elevated blood pressure were not significantly associated with impairment (all p > 0.05). CONCLUSION: Our findings support low HDL-C as an independent risk marker of cognitive impairment in older age. The need for research into mediatory and confounding factors, and re-evaluation of traditional cut-off points is highlighted. TRIAL REGISTRATION: The study was registered on 15th October 2014 at (NCT02265263).