Background and purpose: People with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) have higher risk of developing dementia than the general population. Currently known risk factors for dementia include older age, low education level, gait disorders, hippocampal atrophy, and apolipoprotein E allele. Vascular risk factors may modify the neurodegenerative process. The aim of this study was therefore to assess the influence of vascular (genetic and environmental) risk factors on progression to dementia in an MCI group during a one-year period.
Material and methods: Fifty-five MCI patients (30 men and 25 women) and 44 controls (25 men and 19 women) matched for age, gender and education were studied. Mild cognitive impairment was diagnosed according to Petersen criteria (Mayo Clinic Group). Neuropsychological evaluation was made. Assessed vascular risk factors included hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cigarette smoking, hyperlipidaemia, hyperhomocysteinaemia with vitamin B12 and folate deficiency. Genetic risk factors (APOE polymorphism, C677T and A1298C MTHFR polymorphisms) were also assessed.
Results: Vascular risk factors were found significantly more often in the MCI group (p = 0.041), including APOE4 allele (p = 0.018), hyperhomocysteinaemia (p = 0.012) and folate deficiency (p = 0.023). Discriminant function analysis showed that only age and hypertension are potential factors which may have an influence on progression to dementia in the MCI group within one year of prospective observation.
Conclusion: Vascular risk factors are associated with cognitive impairment but do not have a significant influence on progression to dementia in the MCI group.