Anxiety is strongly associated with a higher risk of cognitive impairment, according to a meta-analysis by B. Gulpers and coauthors from Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

Investigators performed a literature search up to January 2015 to identify studies on the relationship between anxiety and cognition. Pooled relative risks were calculated to examine anxiety as a possible factor for cognitive impairment, cognitive decline, and dementia in community studies, and for conversion to dementia in patients referred to memory clinics.

Anxiety predicted cognitive impairment (RR = 1.77; 95% confidence interval, 1.38-2.26; z = 4.50; P less than .001) and dementia (RR = 1.57; 95% CI, 1.02-2.42; z = 2.05; P = .040) in the community, especially with increased mean age, the authors reported. Anxiety did not, however, predict conversion to dementia (RR = 1.21; 95% CI, 0.90-1.63; z = 1.28; P = .200).

“Future studies should include mediating mechanism when studying anxiety as a predictor for cognitive decline and/or dementia,” the authors concluded.

Read the full article in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry .