Objective: The aim of the study was to examine the association of religious education and observance with dementia among participants in the Israeli Ischemic Heart Disease study.
Study design and setting: We assessed dementia in 1,890 participants among 2,604 survivors of 10,059 participants in the Israeli Ischemic Heart Disease study, a longitudinal investigation of the incidence and risk factors for cardiovascular disease among Jewish male civil servants in Israel. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 651 subjects identified as possibly demented by the Modified Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status.
Results: Of 1,628 subjects included in this analysis (mean age 82 at assessment), 308 (18.9%) had dementia. The prevalence rates of dementia (and odds ratios (ORs) relative to those with exclusively religious education, adjusted for age, area of birth, and socioeconomic status) were 27.1% for those with exclusively religious education, 12.6% (OR=0.49) for those with mixed education, and 16.1% (OR=0.76) for those with secular education. For religious self-definition and practice, the prevalence rates were 9.7%, 17.7%, 14.1%, 19.3%, and 28.8% for categories from least to most religious (ORs relative to the most religious: 0.43, 0.67, 0.48, 0.55).
Conclusions: Examining lifestyles associated with religiosity might shed light onto environmental risks for dementia. Mechanisms underlying these associations remain elusive.