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Study Finds Higher Risk of Cardiovascular Disease is Associated With Faster Cognitive Decline

Previous research has found that cardiovascular risk factors including obesity, diabetes, smoking, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia are associated with faster cognitive decline. A new study looked deeper into this association and found that cardiovascular risk factors are associated with faster declines in global cognition and memory.

Participants in the study included 1,588 people with an average age of 79.5 who took part in the Rush Memory and Aging Project. Participants were dementia-free at the beginning of the study and were followed for an average of 21 years. Cardiovascular risk scores were assessed at baseline and participants were categorized as having lowest, middle, and highest risk for cardiovascular disease. Every year, participants’ memory of everyday events, long-term memory, short-term memory, visuospatial ability, and perceptual speed were evaluated.

Participants with the highest risk for cardiovascular disease were found to have faster declines in global cognition, memory of everyday events, short-term memory, and perceptual speed compared to those with the lowest risk. They were also found to have greater amounts of neurodegeneration and vascular lesions in the brain.

The study was conducted by researchers from Tianjin Medical University and Karolinska Institutet. It was published online ahead of print on May 18, 2020 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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