Hippocampal Calcification Associated With Aging, Diabetes, and Smoking

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Diabetes, smoking, and older age may be linked with an increased risk for hippocampal calcifications on CT scans.
Diabetes, smoking, and older age may be linked with an increased risk for hippocampal calcifications on CT scans.

An increased risk of hippocampal calcification is associated with aging, diabetes, and smoking, but not associated with decreased cognitive function, according to a study published in Radiology.

Researchers in this retrospective study analyzed patients at a memory loss clinic who underwent a medical and cognitive examination, a laboratory assessment, and a head CT. Their goal was to identify hippocampal calcification risk factors and the effects of hippocampal calcification on cognitive function

Out of 1991 patients examined, 19.1% had hippocampal calcification, and these patients were older (mean age 81 vs 78 years; P <.01), and more likely to have had a history of diabetes (P =.01). Smoking was also associated with the presence of hippocampal calcification (odds ratio 1.49; 95% CI, 1.05-2.10; P =.02).  There were no associations between hypertension and hyperlipidemia with a higher risk for hippocampal calcifications.

In regards to cognitive function, 41.6% of the 1991 patients had Alzheimer disease, 24.6% had mild cognitive impairment, and 16.7% had subject cognitive impairment. There was not a difference between these cognitive categories and levels of calcification.

Based on these results, it is hypothesized that hippocampal calcification is closely associated with vascular abnormality. The mechanism for calcification needs to be further evaluated, which includes a more accurate assessment of cardiovascular risk and disease in a population-based study.

In conclusion, these findings suggest that risk factors for hippocampal calcification are age, a history of diabetes, and smoking status, and hippocampal calcification was not associated with decreased cognitive function.

Reference

de Brouwer EJM, Kockelkoren R, Claus JJ, et al. Hippocampal calcifications: risk factors and association with cognitive function [published online June 12, 2018]. Radiology. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2018172588

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