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Cardiovascular risk burden tied to neurodegeneration, cognitive decline

29 May 2020

Higher cardiovascular risk burden correlates with neurodegeneration and vascular lesions in the brain and appears to be a predictor of decline in episodic memory, working memory, and perceptual speed, a study has shown.

A total of 1,588 dementia-free participants (mean age, 79.5 years) within the Rush Memory and Aging Project were followed for up to 21 years. The authors evaluated the Framingham General Cardiovascular Risk Score (FGCRS) at baseline and categorized FGCRS into tertiles (lowest, middle, and highest). They also assessed episodic memory, semantic memory, working memory, visuospatial ability, and perceptual speed annually with a battery of 19 tests, from which composite scores were derived.

A subsample of 378 participants underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Structural total and regional brain volumes were estimated. Linear mixed-effects models and linear regression models were used to analyse data.

FGCRS ranged from 4 to 28 (mean score, 15.6±3.7) in all participants. The highest tertile correlated with faster decline in global cognition (β, –0.019, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], −0.035 to −0.003), episodic memory (β, −0.023, 95 percent CI, −0.041 to −0.004), working memory (β, −0.021, 95 percent CI, −0.035 to −0.007), and perceptual speed (β, −0.027, 95 percent CI, −0.042 to −0.011) compared to the lowest tertile over the follow-up.

MRI data analyses revealed that higher FGCRS was associated with smaller volumes of the hippocampus (β, −0.021, 95 percent CI, −0.042 to −0.000), gray matter (β, −1.569, 95 percent CI, −2.757 to −0.382), and total brain (β, −1.588; 95 percent CI, −2.832 to −0.344), and greater volume of white matter hyperintensities (β, 0.035, 95 percent CI, 0.001–0.069).

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Most Read Articles
4 days ago
Routinely used for treating cardiovascular diseases, statins have been shown to benefit other conditions, and new evidence suggests that using the drug at high intensity reduces the risk of hip or knee replacement, an effect that may be specific to rheumatoid arthritis.
Jairia Dela Cruz, 4 days ago
Following vegan and vegetarian diets, which offer plenty of what is good for health, has been reported to have a downside: an increased risk of depression and anxiety, especially for younger adults.
Pearl Toh, 29 Jun 2020
Having migraine during midlife appears to be associated with a higher risk of developing dementia in later life, according to a large population-based longitudinal Danish study presented at the AHS* 2020 Virtual Meeting, indicating that migraine may be a risk factor for dementia.
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