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

1950s drug is future heart treatment

date 14 hours ago

Oxford University researchers have found a promising future treatment for heart disease, going back to a drug first developed in 1950.

Time is muscle in acute heart failure

date 23 hours ago

Urgent diagnosis and treatment in acute heart failure has been emphasised for the first time in joint recommendations published today in European Heart Journal.

Common mutation linked to heart disease

date May 20, 2015

A common mutation in a gene that regulates cholesterol levels may raise the risk of heart disease in carriers, according to a new UConn Health study.

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.