Diabetes mellitus is a risk factor for vascular dementia, but not for Alzheimer's disease: a population-based study of the oldest old

Int Psychogeriatr. 2002 Sep;14(3):239-48. doi: 10.1017/s104161020200844x.


Background: The purpose of this study was to examine if Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a risk factor for dementia in very old age, specifically for Alzheimer's disease (AD) and vascular dementia (VaD).

Methods: We evaluated the risk of dementia in relation to Type 2 diabetes using a population-based sample of 702 individuals aged 80 years and older (mean age 83 years). A total of 187 persons received a dementia diagnosis. Thirty-one individuals had a diabetes diagnosis prior to onset of the dementia.

Results: Cox proportional hazard analyses, adjusted for age, gender, education, smoking habits, and circulatory diseases, indicated an elevated risk to develop VaD (relative risk = 2.54, 95% confidence interval 1.354.78) in individuals with diabetes mellitus. No association was found between diabetes and AD.

Conclusion: Type 2 diabetes is selectively related to the different subtypes of dementia. There is no increased risk of AD but more than a twofold risk of VaD in persons with diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology*
  • Dementia, Vascular / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors