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Healthy heart may lead to healthy cognition

Around the world, cardiovascular diseases are the number-one cause of death. According to information

provided by the World Health Organization, about 80% of the risk factors for coronary heart disease

and cerebrovascular disease can be attributed to lifestyle choices, such as healthy diet, regular physical

activity and avoiding tobacco smoke.


STUDY: Data from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) Study was

used to determine the cardiovascular health status of 17,761 people ages 45 and older based on The

American Heart Association Life’s Simple 7 Score (get active, eat better, lose weight, stop smoking,

control cholesterol, manage blood pressure, reduce blood sugar). At baseline participants had normal

cognitive function; their mental function was evaluated four years later.


FINDINGS: People with poor cardiovascular had a significantly greater risk of developing cognitive

impairment, especially learning and memory problems, compared to people with intermediate or ideal

cardiovascular health. After accounting for differences in age, sex, race and education, rates of cognitive

impairment were: 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.

COMMENT: “Even when ideal cardiovascular health is not achieved, intermediate levels of cardiovascular

health are preferable to low levels for better cognitive function,” said lead investigator Evan L. Thacker,

PhD, an assistant professor and chronic disease epidemiologist at Brigham Young University. “This

is an encouraging message because intermediate cardiovascular health is a more realistic target for

many individuals than ideal cardiovascular health.”

SOURCE: American Heart Association (June 11, 2014)


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