Premature Cardiovascular Disease Linked to Lower Cognition

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 25, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Premature cardiovascular disease (CVD; age 60 years or younger) is associated with lower cognition, according to a study published online Jan. 25 in Neurology.

Xiaqing Jiang, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues examined the association of premature CVD with midlife cognition and white matter health among 3,146 participants in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study, who were aged 18 to 30 years at baseline in 1985 to 1986 and were followed for up to 30 years. Five cognitive tests measuring different domains were administered at follow-up. In a subset of 656 participants, brain magnetic resonance imaging measures of white matter hyperintensity and white matter integrity were available.

The researchers found that 147 participants (5 percent) had premature CVD. Premature CVD was associated with lower cognition in four of five domains after adjustment for multiple variables: global cognition (−0.22), verbal memory (−0.28), processing speed (−0.46), and executive function (−0.38). After adjustment for covariates, premature CVD was associated with greater white matter hyperintensity (total, temporal, and parietal lobes) and higher white matter mean diffusivity (total and temporal lobes). After adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors and excluding those with stroke/transient ischemic attack, these associations remained significant. There was also an association seen for premature CVD with accelerated cognitive decline over five years (adjusted odds ratio, 3.07).

"Our research suggests that a person's 20s and 30s are a crucial time to begin protecting brain health through cardiovascular disease prevention and intervention," Jiang said in a statement.

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