Tests to predict heart problems may be more useful predictor of memory loss than dementia tests

April 1, 2013

Risk prediction tools that estimate future risk of heart disease and stroke may be more useful predictors of future decline in cognitive abilities, or memory and thinking, than a dementia risk score, according to a new study published in the April 2, 2013, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

"This is the first study that compares these risk scores with a dementia risk score to study decline in cognitive abilities 10 years later," said Sara Kaffashian, PhD, with the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in Paris, France.

The study involved 7,830 men and women with an average age of 55. Risk of heart disease and stroke (cardiovascular disease) and risk of dementia were calculated for each participant at the beginning of the study.

The score included the following risk factors: age, blood pressure, treatment for high blood pressure, (HDL) cholesterol, total cholesterol, smoking, and diabetes. The stroke risk score included age, blood pressure, treatment for high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, history of heart disease, and presence of cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heart beat).

The dementia risk score included age, education, blood pressure, (BMI), total cholesterol, exercise, and whether a person had the APOE ε4 gene, a gene associated with dementia.

Memory and thinking abilities were measured three times over 10 years.

The study found that all three risk scores predicted 10-year decline in multiple cognitive tests. However, heart disease risk scores showed stronger links with than a dementia risk score. Both heart and stroke risk were associated with decline in all cognitive tests except memory; dementia risk was not linked with decline in memory and .

"Although the dementia and cardiovascular risk scores all predict cognitive decline starting in late middle age, cardiovascular risk scores may have an advantage over the dementia for use in prevention and for targeting changeable risk factors since they are already used by many physicians. The findings also emphasize the importance of risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure in not only increasing risk of heart disease and stroke but also having a negative impact on cognitive abilities," said Kaffashian.

Explore further: Treating high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes may lower risk of Alzheimer's disease

Related Stories

Treating high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes may lower risk of Alzheimer's disease

April 13, 2011
Treating high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and other vascular risk factors may help lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease in people who already show signs of declining thinking skills or memory problems. The ...

Vascular changes linked to dementia

July 21, 2011
The same artery-clogging process (atherosclerosis) that causes heart disease can also result in age-related vascular cognitive impairments (VCI), according to a new American Heart Association/American Stroke Association scientific ...

Outlining the risk factors to help prevent dementia

October 16, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—Research shows that managing and treating vascular disease risk factors are not only beneficial to preventing heart disease and stroke, but also common forms of dementia.

Study links heart disease risk factors to some cognitive decline

April 12, 2011
Older adults at risk for stroke have significantly increased risk for some types of cognitive decline, according to a multicenter study led by University of California scientists.

Recommended for you

Theory: Flexibility is at the heart of human intelligence

November 19, 2017
Centuries of study have yielded many theories about how the brain gives rise to human intelligence. Some neuroscientists think intelligence springs from a single region or neural network. Others argue that metabolism or the ...

Investigating patterns of degeneration in Alzheimer's disease

November 17, 2017
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is known to cause memory loss and cognitive decline, but other functions of the brain can remain intact. The reasons cells in some brain regions degenerate while others are protected is largely unknown. ...

Study may point to new treatment approach for ASD

November 17, 2017
Using sophisticated genome mining and gene manipulation techniques, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have solved a mystery that could lead to a new treatment approach for autism spectrum disorder ...

Neuroscientists find chronic stress skews decisions toward higher-risk options

November 16, 2017
Making decisions is not always easy, especially when choosing between two options that have both positive and negative elements, such as deciding between a job with a high salary but long hours, and a lower-paying job that ...

Paraplegic rats walk and regain feeling after stem cell treatment

November 16, 2017
Engineered tissue containing human stem cells has allowed paraplegic rats to walk independently and regain sensory perception. The implanted rats also show some degree of healing in their spinal cords. The research, published ...

Brain implant tested in human patients found to improve memory recall

November 15, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers with the University of Southern California and the Wake Forest School of Medicine has conducted experiments involving implanting electrodes into the brains of human volunteers to see ...

0 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.