Seniors with multiple chronic conditions are at greater risk for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia, according to new data published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

In a prospective cohort study, researchers followed 2,176 randomly assigned, cognitively normal adults enrolled in the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging. Of those enrolled, 1,884 (86.6%) had two or more chronic conditions. Data were collected for a five-year period prior to enrollment and were assessed at 15 month intervals.

The researchers found that adults with two or more conditions were 38% more likely to develop MCI or dementia compared to those with one or no condition. Those with four or more conditions were 68% more likely to develop MCI or dementia compared to those with two or three conditions. The authors also reported that the longer duration of chronic diseases may have a stronger effect on cognitive decline.

“These findings emphasize the importance of preventing and effectively managing chronic diseases, provide added insights into contributors of risk for MCI and dementia, are consistent with the hypothesis that multiple etiologies may contribute to MCI and late-life dementia, and have important implications for healthcare planning and developing strategies to reduce the burden of MCI and dementia,” the authors concluded.

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