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Aortal Stiffness May be a Key Risk Factor for Dementia

A recent study suggests that stiffness of the aorta may be a key risk factor for dementia. The findings are important, as aortal stiffness is something that people may be able to manage via lifestyle changes and medication even later in life.


Participants in the study included 356 people with an average age of 78 who took part in the Cardiovascular Health Study Cognition Study. All of the participants were dementia-free at the onset of the study, in 1998. The study included 15 years of almost complete follow up of cognitive status and outcomes. The researchers measured aortic stiffness via pulse wave velocity and MRI scans to measure signs of subclinical brain disease.


At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted that the participants with high pulse wave velocity were 60% more likely to develop dementia during the 15-year follow up period than those with lower pulse wave velocity. Pulse wave velocity is a measure of arterial stiffness.They also found that the effect held even after adjusting for subclinical brain disease markers.


Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Schools the Health Sciences conducted the study. It was published on October 16, 2018, in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.


Arterial stiffness is a natural process of aging that can be accelerated by obesity, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome.  Arterial stiffness increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Natural ways to reduce arterial stiffness include low carb diets, and exercise, among others.

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