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Heart disease in middle age causes memory loss

News18

Updated: February 22, 2011, 6:05 PM IST
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Heart disease in middle age causes memory loss
Higher cardiovascular risk causes memory loss in both men and women.

Houston: Middle-age people facing cardiovascular problems such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure may not only be at the risk of heart disease
but also an increased risk of developing early cognitive and memory problems.

A study has found that people who have higher cardiovascular risk are more likely to have lower cognitive function and a faster rate of overall cognitive decline compared to those with the lowest risk of heart disease.

Higher cardiovascular risk is also associated with a 10-year faster rate of overall cognitive decline in both men and women compared to those with lower cardiovascular risk.

For the study, authored by Sara Kaffashian of INSERM, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, Paris, 3,486 men and 1,341 women with an average age of 55 underwent cognitive tests three times in over 10 years.

The tests measured reasoning, memory, fluency and vocabulary. Participants received a Framingham risk score that is used to predict 10-year risk of a cardiovascular event. It is based on age, sex, HDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, systolic blood pressure and whether they smoked or had diabetes.

A 10-per cent higher cardiovascular risk was associated with poorer cognitive test scores in all areas except reasoning for men and fluency for women. For example, a 10 per cent higher cardiovascular risk was associated with a 2.8 per cent lower score in the test of memory for men and a 7.1 per cent lower score in the memory test for women.

"Our findings contribute to the mounting evidence for the role of cardiovascular risk factors, such as high cholesterol and blood pressure, contributing to cognitive problems, starting in middle age," Kaffashian said.

The study also demonstrated how these heart disease risk factors can contribute to cognitive decline over a 10-year period.

First Published: February 22, 2011, 6:05 PM IST
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