WEDNESDAY, Oct. 12, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Distressing dreams predict cognitive decline and all-cause dementia in middle-aged and older adults without cognitive impairment or Parkinson disease, according to a study published online Sept. 21 in eClinicalMedicine.

Abidemi I. Otaiku, B.M.B.S., from Birmingham City Hospital in the United Kingdom, investigated the association between self-reported distressing dream frequency and the risk for cognitive decline and incident dementia in community-dwelling men and women without cognitive impairment or Parkinson disease. The analysis included 605 middle-aged adults (mean age, 50 years; 55.7 percent female) participating the Midlife in the United States study.

Otaiku found that in an adjusted analysis, a higher frequency of distressing dreams was linearly and statistically significantly associated with a higher risk for cognitive decline among middle-aged adults and a higher risk for incident all-cause dementia among older adults. Participants who reported having weekly distressing dreams had a higher risk for experiencing cognitive decline compared with middle-aged adults who reported having no distressing dreams at baseline (adjusted odds ratio, 3.99). Dementia risk was elevated among older adults (adjusted odds ratio, 2.21). However, the associations between distressing dreams and both cognitive outcomes were only statistically significant among men in a sex-stratified analysis.

“These findings may help to identify individuals at risk of dementia and could facilitate early prevention strategies,” Otaiku writes.

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