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Physical activity good for cognitive health in women with HIV infection

09 Sep 2018

Female patients with HIV infection may benefit from doing exercises, with a recent study suggesting that physical activity protects against cognitive impairment in women but not in men.

The study included 988 HIV patients (mean age 52 years; 20 percent female). Neurocognitive performance, the main outcome, was assessed using a battery of four neuropsychological tests, such as trail making tests A and B, the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised Digit Symbol subtest, and the revised Hopkins Verbal Learning Test Revised (HVLT-R).

Physical activity levels were measured using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire, and results were dichotomized into 3 vs <3 days of vigorous or moderate physical activity.

Neurocognitive data revealed that 275 patients (28 percent) met the criteria for cognitive impairment at study entry. Significantly more women than men had cognitive impairment (36 percent vs 26 percent; p=0.003)

Cardiometabolic data, on the other hand, showed that compared with men, women had higher total cholesterol (194 vs 186 mg/dL; p=0.027), haemoglobin A1c (5.9 percent vs 5.7 percent; p=0.003) and body mass index (30.8 vs 27.4 kg/m2; p<0.001). Furthermore, women were less physically active (43 percent vs 55 percent; p=0.005).

In multivariable logistic regression models, physical activity was associated with lower cognitive impairment in women (odds ratio [OR], 0.35; 95 percent CI, 0.15–0.80; p=0.013) but not men.

The findings indicate that physical activity may have a greater positive impact on cognitive health in women than in men with HIV, researchers said. Additional studies are needed to examine the longitudinal association between physical activity and incident cognitive impairment.

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