Background: Depression, anxiety, diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors are frequent health problems among older people with intellectual disability (ID). These conditions may be bidirectionally related. Depression and anxiety may have biological effects causing glucose intolerance, fat accumulation and also lifestyle changes causing metabolic syndrome. But also the effects of diabetes, metabolic syndrome and subsequent cardiovascular disease may affect mood and anxiety. This study investigated the association between depression, anxiety and diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors in older people with ID. Methods: The healthy ageing in intellectual disability-study (HA-ID study) is a cross-sectional study among people aged 50 years and over with ID, receiving formal ID care. Screening instruments for symptoms of anxiety and depression were completed and physical examination and vena-puncture were performed to establish components of the metabolic syndrome, peripheral arterial disease and c-reactive protein. Results: Of the 990 people who participated, 17% had symptoms of depression and 16% had symptoms of anxiety. Type I diabetes was present in 1%, type II diabetes in 13% of the study population. Metabolic syndrome, central obesity, hypercholesterolemia and hypertension were present in 45%, 48%, 23% and 53% respectively. In a multivariate logistic regression analysis a significant association was found between increased anxiety symptoms and diabetes only (OR 2.4, 95%CI 1.2-4.9). Conclusions: Increased anxiety symptoms and diabetes are related in older people with ID. This association may be bidirectional. No other associations of depression and anxiety symptoms with cardiovascular risk factors could be proven to be significant. Therefore, more research is needed to unravel the mechanisms of stress, mood disorders and cardiovascular disease in older people with ID. To provide comprehensive care for older people with ID, screening for diabetes and components of the metabolic syndrome in people with anxiety or mood disorders, and screening for symptoms of anxiety or depression in people with diabetes is warranted.

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Journal of Intellectual Disability Research
Department of General Practice

de Winter, C., Hermans, H., Evenhuis, H., & Echteld, M. (2015). Associations of symptoms of anxiety and depression with diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors in older people with intellectual disability. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 59(2), 176–185. doi:10.1111/jir.12049