Posted on Jul 21, 2014, 6 a.m.
The risk of developing learning and memory impairments with age may be significantly greater for people with poor cardiovascular health.
A wealth of evidence suggests that cardiovascular health plays a critical role in brain health. Evan L. Thacker, from Brigham Young University (Utah, USA), and colleagues studied data collected on 17,761 people, ages 45 and older at the outset, who had normal cognitive function and no history of stroke. Mental function was evaluated four years later. Researchers used data from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) Study to determine cardiovascular health status based on The American Heart Association Life's Simple 7™ score – a system aiming to measure the benefits of modifiable health behaviors and risk factors in cardiovascular health. Cognitive impairment was identified in 4.6% of people with the worst cardiovascular health scores; 2.7% of those with intermediate health profiles; and 2.6% of those in the best cardiovascular health category. The study authors conclude that: “Compared with low [cardiovascular health], intermediate and high [cardiovascular health] were both associated with substantially lower incidence of cognitive impairment.”
Thacker EL, Gillett SR, Wadley VG, Unverzagt FW, Judd SE, McClure LA, Howard VJ, Cushman M. “The American Heart Association Life's Simple 7 and Incident Cognitive Impairment: The REasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) Study.” J Am Heart Assoc. 2014 Jun 11;3(3). pii: e000635.