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Dementia Risk Score Linked to MRI Markers of Brain Atrophy

Higher scores on Lifestyle for Brain Health index linked to higher volumes of white matter hyperintensities, lower scores for cognitive function

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THURSDAY, Aug. 26, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Higher scores on the Lifestyle for Brain Health (LIBRA) index, indicating higher dementia risk, are associated with higher volumes of white matter hyperintensities and lower scores on information-processing speed and executive function and attention, according to a study published online Aug. 25 in Neurology.

Irene S. Heger, from the School for Mental Health and Neuroscience at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, and colleagues examined whether a dementia risk score, the LIBRA index, is associated with magnetic resonance imaging markers and cognitive functioning/impairment. The weighted compound score of LIBRA was calculated, including 12 dementia risk and protective factors, with higher scores indicating higher dementia risk.

The researchers found that participants with higher LIBRA scores (mean, 1.19) had higher volumes of white matter hyperintensities and lower scores on information-processing speed and executive function and attention. Associations were found between LIBRA and volumes of grey matter, cerebrospinal fluid, and memory, only in men. The association between LIBRA and cognition was partially mediated by white matter hyperintensities and cerebrospinal fluid.

"Dementia risk scores might be useful to help identify people at higher risk of dementia earlier, so that potential lifestyle factors can be addressed earlier and monitored more closely," a coauthor said in a statement. "Our study found that a substantial proportion of brain changes might be attributable to risk factors that can be modified."

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