Cardiovascular disease can quicken cognitive declines.
It seems the heart and the mind are connected.
But you already knew that, literally and figuratively.
The brainstem is responsible for regulating blood pressure and heart rhythms.
The heart pumps blood to oxygenate the brain.
According to a recent MedPage Today article titled “Early CVD Linked to Accelerated Cognitive Decline,” poor functioning of one can lead to issues with the other.
Although previous research has connected cognitive impairment or dementia and cardiovascular disease in seniors, younger individuals have received less focused study.
A recent study focused on evaluating the effect of cardiovascular disease events on brain functioning in younger adults.
Kristine Yaffe, MD, of the University of California San Fransisco, and her colleagues published their report in the Neurology journal.
To conduct their research, they utilized data from more than 3,000 participants in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study.
Researchers reviewed how premature cardiovascular disease correlated with declining cognitive functioning in five domains.
Results found a significant association with the worsening in the four domains of global cognition (-0.22, 95% CI -0.37 to -0.08), verbal memory (-0.28, 95% CI -0.44 to -0.12), processing speed (-0.46, 95% CI -0.62 to -0.31), and executive functioning (-0.38, 95% CI -0.55 to -0.22).
Of the 2,722 participants who had cognitive assessments at years 25 and 30, those with premature cardiovascular disease had a 13 percent prevalence of accelerated cognitive decline while those without premature cardiovascular disease had a 5 percent prevalence.
Additionally, individuals who had cardiovascular disease events prior to age 60 were more than three times more likely to drop by at least 1.5 standard deviations on a composite cognitive score over five years.
What does this mean?
Young adults should focus on fostering cardiovascular health.
Doing so can improve cognitive health outcomes over their lifetimes.
The CARDIA study data has demonstrated previous links between cognitive decline and cardiovascular risk factors in middle age.
At the 30-year follow-up, 4.7 percent of the participants had experienced at least one event of cardiovascular disease.
What is considered a cardiovascular disease event?
These are carotid artery disease, congestive heart failure, coronary heart disease, peripheral artery disease, stroke, and transient ischemic attack (TIA).
On average, the participants were 48 years old when they experienced their first cardiovascular event.
A follow-up cognitive assessment was administered 7.7 years later on average.
Those participants who had premature cardiovascular disease events were typically older males who were black.
They also tended to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease and to be less educated.
With the rise of cardiovascular disease events in individuals who are in young and middle adulthood, about one-third of events in women and about one-half of events in men now occur in this age range.
It is more important than ever before for young men and women to work with their physicians to improve their cardiovascular health.
A lot of what we do today will impact our tomorrow.
Reference: MedPage Today (Jan. 25, 2023) “Early CVD Linked to Accelerated Cognitive Decline”