Heart disease is one of the most prolific killers in America, taking one life every 34 seconds and affecting nearly one-half of the country’s population. According to a new study from the University of California, San Francisco, people who develop heart disease earlier in their lives have an increased risk of experiencing cognitive decline later in life.
The study found that people who suffer strokes or heart attacks in middle age may have problems with thinking and memory when they grow older. More specifically, the study focused on individuals who developed heart disease or leg artery disease, or who suffered a stroked before they turned age 60.
Dr. Xiang Jiang, who led the study, and her team analyzed health data from more than 3,100 Americans that was collected for up to 30 years from young adulthood. The study showed that 5% of those in the study developed cardiovascular disease, usually stroke and heart disease, in middle age; these same individuals performed poorly in cognitive tests they took in their 50s.
The researchers found that early cardiovascular disease, usually heart attack, was still associated with worse scores on cognitive tests even when participants with premature stroke were excluded. The research revealed that these individuals tended to perform worse on memory and thinking tests compared to similarly aged people who did not have any cardiovascular diseases. Furthermore, the study found that the patients didn’t have to wait until they were older for these cognitive differences to manifest; they were already discernible before age 60.
Jiang stated that it isn’t exactly clear how these cognitive differences could affect the brain health of people who developed premature cardiovascular disease down the line.
Most studies on the relationship between brain and heart health tend to look at older adults and have generally tied stroke and heart disease to an increased risk of developing cognitive impairment later in life. These cognitive problems can include everything from issues with memory and thinking to full-blown dementia.
Jiang explained that the association between poor heart health and poor brain health could be due to several reasons, including diminished blood flow to the brain. Little is known about the connection between the development of premature cardiovascular disease and the onset of cognitive decline, and Jiang’s study provided much-needed insight.
Still, she stated that this wasn’t definitive proof that premature cardiovascular disease caused cognitive decline, emphasizing that the group’s findings highlighted the need for a heart-healthy lifestyle for people of all ages.
Cognitive decline can have devastating effects on not just the patients but also their families and caregivers. Health monitoring devices commercialized by companies such as MetAlert Inc. (OTC: MLRT) go a long way toward making it easier to take care of someone suffering from dementia and other forms of cognitive decline.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to MetAlert Inc. (OTC: MLRT) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/MLRT
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