University researchers have found a link between childhood IQ and vascular dementia developing later in life.
The study, published in the journal Neurology, found that lower childhood intelligence increases the risk of vascular dementia.
However, attempts to reduce blood pressure and smoking in young people with lower IQs could lower this risk.
Researchers compared the records of 173 people who participated in the Scottish Mental Survey of 1932, when almost every 11-year-old took an intelligence test.
Dr Brian McGurn, who led the study when based at the University, said:
“The unique data available from the survey means we can rule out the influence of factors like socio-economic status and education.”
They showed that lower childhood IQ increased the risk of vascular dementia, but not Alzheimer's disease.
Because the difference was not seen in Alzheimer's, this suggests that increased risk of 'dementia' may be due to vascular causes.
This research confirms that vascular risk factors are very important in tackling dementia. If we live a healthier lifestyle and reduce our risk of high blood pressure, cholesterol and don't smoke, then this gives us a much better chance of avoiding dementia later in life.