Tendency for Rumination in midlife may decrease risk for dementia decades later

July 31, 2008

According to Ramit Ravona-Springer, MD, of Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Ramat Gan, Israel and colleagues, “rumination” refers to the disposition for repetitive thinking over one’s problems.

Tendency for rumination when confronting difficulties in family and work settings was assessed in about 9,000 participants in the IIHD study, a longitudinal investigation of the incidence and risk factors for cardiovascular disease among Jewish male civil servants in Israel. Tendency for rumination was assessed as 1=always forget, 2=tend to forget, 3=tend to ruminate, 4=usually ruminate.

Dementia was assessed three decades later in 1,890 participants among 2,604 survivors of the original cohort. Mean age of the participants was 82 at the time of final assessment. 308 were diagnosed as demented, 175 as having mild cognitive impairment, and 1,407 had no cognitive impairment.

The prevalence rates of dementia (adjusted for age, area of birth, and socioeconomic status) were 21% for those who always forget difficulties in familial settings, 18% for those who tend to forget, 14% for those who tend to ruminate over difficulties, and 14% for those who usually ruminate. When rumination in response to difficulties at work was assessed, prevalence rates of dementia were 24% for those who always forget difficulties, 19% for those who tend to forget, 15% for those who tend to ruminate over difficulties, and 15% for those who usually ruminate.

A total score for rumination in both family and work settings was calculated, and subjects were divided into four groups according to this score. Relative to the group with the lowest total rumination score, dementia prevalence was 30 to 40 percent less in groups with higher scores.

“Your personality traits, specifically your psychological and cognitive style when confronting distress, may be associated with your risk for dementia,” said Ravona-Springer. “However, exactly how this works still needs to be determined.
Source: Alzheimer’s Association;International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease 2008

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