Heart disease linked with dementia in older postmenopausal women

Heart disease may put older postmenopausal women at higher risk for decreased brain function such as dementia, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association.

"Our study provides further new evidence that this relationship (between and dementia) does exist, especially among ," said study author Bernhard Haring, M.D., M.P.H., clinical fellow in the Comprehensive Heart Failure Center and the Department of Internal Medicine I at the University of Würzburg in Germany. "And many different types of heart disease or vascular disease are associated with declining brain function."

Researchers, conducting neurocognitive exams on nearly 6,500 U.S. women ages 65-79 who had healthy at the start of the study, found:

  • Postmenopausal women with heart disease or vascular disease were 29 percent more likely to experience over time compared with women without heart disease.
  • The risk for cognitive decline was approximately double among women who had a heart attack compared with those who had not had a heart attack.
  • Women who had heart bypass surgery, carotid endarterectomy (surgical removal of a blockage in a neck artery) or peripheral artery disease were at greater risk for cognitive decline.
  • Risk factors such as and diabetes increased risk for cognitive decline over time.
  • Obesity didn't notably increase cognitive decline in elderly women.

"Women with heart disease—in particular women who have had a heart attack, bypass surgery, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, peripheral vascular disease or carotid endarterectomy—should be monitored by their doctors for potential cognitive decline," Haring said. "It is also very important to adequately manage heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes."

Dementia is an increasingly significant problem in developed countries, so researchers said more study is warranted on how preventing cardiovascular disease may preserve cognitive health.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

A-fib recurrence common five years after ablation

date Apr 17, 2015

(HealthDay)—Most patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) and systolic heart failure who undergo ablation have AF recurrence at five years, according to a study published in the April issue of the Journal of ...

Applied physics helps decipher the causes of sudden death

date Apr 17, 2015

Sudden cardiac death accounts for approximately 10% of natural deaths, most of which are due to ventricular fibrillation. Each year, it causes 300,000 deaths in the United States and 20,000 in Spain. Researchers have demonstrated ...

Cognitive problems are common after cardiac arrest

date Apr 17, 2015

Half of all patients who survive a cardiac arrest experience problems with cognitive functions such as memory and attention. This has been shown by a major international study led from Lund University. Surprisingly, however, ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.