Stay Sharp!

Could it be true that smart people live longer? All the more reason to get engaged with my “New Thought Horizons” material.

Apparently, it’s true, at least in reverse: even mild cognitive impairment has a strong independent impact on life expectancy, as bad as other chronic diseases, such as diabetes.

In a new study report published in the September 6, 2011, issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, just shy of 4000 older adults were followed and the degree of cognitive impairment at baseline was clearly associated with an increasing risk for death.

You don’t want to go there, so eat your greens, take lots of omega-3s, alpha lipoic acid and all that other good brain stuff I share with you in my “How to Live Beyond 100 Years” book.

Whatever life has in store for us, we Boomers want to be sure we’ll reach old age in good shape and with all our faculties intact. People can ride horses and enjoy sex after the age of 100 years, for goodness sake! Don’t settle for less…

Lead author of this study, Dr Greg Sachs, MD, chief of the division of general internal medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, and scientist at the Center for Aging Research, Regenstrief Institute, Indianapolis, suggests that we should be testing for cognitive impairment in the same way we do bloods, to look for risk factors.

“Because cognitive impairment in the moderate to severe cases is associated with such a decrease in life expectancy, we need to take it into account when making other kinds of medical decisions,” Dr. Sachs said.

“For example, a 70-year-old man with severe cognitive impairment is not likely to live long enough to benefit from a screening colonoscopy, and we should recognize that subjecting such a patient to this kind of procedure may be more likely to harm than help him and not order the test,” he advised.


Previous studies have linked cognitive impairment to an increased risk for death, but most of this work has focused on patients with Alzheimer’s disease. We know that Alzheimer’s is an ultimately fatal condition.

This study has tracked the risk down from dementia, to even mild cognitive impairment.

Dr. Sachs noted that the patients were drawn from primary care practices, rather than specialty clinics or research registries, “so they look more like patients typically seen in primary care.”

He also noted that the cohort included significant numbers of black people and people with a low education level or socioeconomic status — “people typically underrepresented in previous research.”

Another strength is the fact that information about clinical conditions was drawn from “a rich electronic medical record system, so more information was available to us about other medical conditions that contribute to decreased life expectancy. We did not have to rely on patient report on other medical conditions.”


Of course this begs the question: why? Why does lowered mental function lead to shortened life?

We don’t know, if the truth.

More to the point, research should be directed towards reversing this condition, instead of giving stupid and ineffective drugs, driven by a crooked propaganda machine.

[Ann Intern Med. 2011;155:300-308. Abstract]