Cardiovascular risk burden, dementia risk and brain structural imaging markers: a study from UK Biobank

Yaying Cao, Gaohong Zhu, Chengwu Feng, Jing Chen, Wei Gan, Yuan Ma, Yonghua Hu, Klodian Dhana, Trudy Voortman, Jie Shen, Ting Li, Yan Zheng, Changzheng Yuan*, Geng Zong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Downloads (Pure)



Cardiovascular risk burden is associated with dementia risk and neurodegeneration-related brain structure, while the role of genetics and incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains unclear. 


To examine the association of overall cardiovascular risk burden with the risk of major dementia subtypes and volumes of related brain regions in a large sample, and to explore the role of genetics and CVD onset. 


A prospective study among 354 654 participants free of CVD and dementia (2006–2010, mean age 56.4 years) was conducted within the UK Biobank, with brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measurement available for 15 104 participants since 2014. CVD risk burden was evaluated by the Framingham General Cardiovascular Risk Score (FGCRS). Dementia diagnosis was ascertained from inpatient and death register data. 


Over a median 12.0-year follow-up, 3998 all-cause dementia cases were identified. Higher FGCRS was associated with increased all-cause dementia risk after adjusting for demographic, major lifestyle, clinical factors and the polygenic risk score (PRS) of Alzheimer’s disease. Comparing the high versus low tertile of FGCRS, the odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were 1.26 (1.12 to 1.41) for all-cause dementia, 1.67 (1.33 to 2.09) for Alzheimer’s disease and 1.53 (1.07 to 2.16) for vascular dementia (all ptrend<0.05). Incident stroke and coronary heart disease accounted for 14% (95% CI: 9% to 21%) of the association between FGCRS and all-cause dementia. Interactions were not detected for FGCRS and PRS on the risk of any dementia subtype. We observed an 83% (95% CI: 47% to 128%) higher all-cause dementia risk comparing the high–high versus low–low FGCRS–PRS category. For brain volumes, higher FGCRS was associated with greater log-transformed white matter hyperintensities, smaller cortical volume and smaller grey matter volume. 


Our findings suggest that the positive association of cardiovascular risk burden with dementia risk also applies to major dementia subtypes. The association of cardiovascular risk burden with all-cause dementia is largely independent of CVD onset and genetic predisposition to dementia.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere101209
JournalGeneral Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 BMJ Publishing Group. All rights reserved.


Dive into the research topics of 'Cardiovascular risk burden, dementia risk and brain structural imaging markers: a study from UK Biobank'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this