Is there an association between metabolic syndrome and cognitive function in very old adults? The Newcastle 85+ Study

Stephanie L Harrison, Blossom C M Stephan, Mario Siervo, Antoneta Granic, Karen Davies, Keith A Wesnes, Thomas B L Kirkwood, Louise Robinson, Carol Jagger

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OBJECTIVES: To determine, using data from the Newcastle 85+ Study, whether there is an association between modern diagnostic criteria for metabolic syndrome (MetS) and cognitive function in very old adults (≥85) and whether inflammation, physical activity, or diabetes mellitus status affects this association.

DESIGN: Longitudinal, population-based cohort study.

SETTING: Newcastle and North Tyneside, United Kingdom.

PARTICIPANTS: Community-dwelling and institutionalized men and women recruited through general practices (N = 845).

MEASUREMENTS: MetS was defined according to the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Adult Treatment Panel III (ATP III) criteria. Cross-sectional and prospective (up to 5 years of follow-up) associations between MetS and global cognitive function (assessed using the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE)) and between MetS and attention and episodic memory (assessed using the Cognitive Drug Research battery) were performed.

RESULTS: MetS was not associated with cognitive function at baseline or cognitive change over time. Lack of association was not because MetS was predictive of subsequent mortality. Of the individual components of the MetS criteria, high blood pressure was associated with better cognitive function at baseline (MMSE: β (standard error (SE)) = -0.716 (0.152), P < .001), and low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol was associated with poorer global cognitive function at baseline (MMSE: 0.436 (0.131), P = .001).

CONCLUSION: The association between MetS and cognitive decline, which has been described in younger populations (<75), was not apparent in this population of individuals aged 85 and older at baseline.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-75
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attention
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cognition
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Prospective Studies
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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