High cholesterol and blood pressure in middle age tied to early memory problems

Feb 21, 2011

Middle-age men and women who have cardiovascular issues, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, may not only be at risk for heart disease, but for an increased risk of developing early cognitive and memory problems as well. That's according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 63rd Annual Meeting in Honolulu April 9 to April 16, 2011.

For the study, 3,486 men and 1,341 women with an average age of 55 underwent cognitive tests three times over 10 years. The tests measured reasoning, memory, fluency and vocabulary. Participants received a Framingham risk score that is used to predict 10-year risk of a cardiovascular event. It is based on age, sex, HDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, systolic blood pressure and whether they smoked or had diabetes.

The study found people who had higher cardiovascular risk were more likely to have lower cognitive function and a faster rate of overall compared to those with the lowest risk of heart disease. A 10-percent higher cardiovascular risk was associated with poorer cognitive test scores in all areas except reasoning for men and fluency for women. For example, a 10 percent higher cardiovascular risk was associated with a 2.8 percent lower score in the test of memory for men and a 7.1 percent lower score in the memory test for women.

Higher cardiovascular risk was also associated with a 10-year faster rate of overall cognitive decline in both men and women compared to those with lower cardiovascular risk.

"Our findings contribute to the mounting evidence for the role of cardiovascular risk factors, such as and blood pressure, contributing to cognitive problems, starting in middle age," said study author Sara Kaffashian, MSc, with INSERM, the French National Institute of Health & Medical Research in Paris. "The study further demonstrates how these heart disease risk factors can contribute to cognitive decline over a 10-year period."

Explore further: Scientists get one step closer to finding how to repair damaged nerve cells

Related Stories

Metabolic syndrome linked to memory loss in older people

Feb 02, 2011

Older people with larger waistlines, high blood pressure and other risk factors that make up metabolic syndrome may be at a higher risk for memory loss, according to a study published in the February 2, 2011, online issue ...

More women than men having mid-life stroke

Jun 20, 2007

More women than men appear to be having a stroke in middle age, according to a study published June 20, 2007, in the online edition of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Researchers say heart ...

Does being overweight in old age cause memory problems?

Sep 19, 2007

While obesity has been shown to contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, being overweight in old age does not lead to memory problems, according to a study published September 19, 2007, in the online ...

Recommended for you

Diet rich in methionine may promote memory loss

17 hours ago

Memory loss has recently been associated with excessive silencing of genes through a process called methylation. Researchers at the University of Louisville investigated the effects of a diet rich in methionine—an amino ...

Intelligent neuroprostheses mimic natural motor control

Mar 30, 2015

Neuroscientists are taking inspiration from natural motor control to design new prosthetic devices that can better replace limb function. In new work, researchers have tested a range of brain-controlled devices ...

Researchers create 'Wikipedia' for neurons

Mar 30, 2015

The decades worth of data that has been collected about the billions of neurons in the brain is astounding. To help scientists make sense of this "brain big data," researchers at Carnegie Mellon University ...

User comments : 0

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.