Heart disease linked with dementia in older postmenopausal women

December 18, 2013

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 heart disease and dementia) does exist, especially among postmenopausal women," 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 brain function at the start of the study, found:"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.
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Co-authors are Xiaoyan Leng, M.D., Ph.D.; Jennifer Robinson, M.D.; Karen C. Johnson, M.D., M.P.H.; Rebecca D. Jackson, M.D.; Rebecca Beyth, M.D., M.Sc.; Jean Wactawski-Wende, Ph.D.; Moritz Wyler von Ballmoos, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.; Joseph S. Goveas, M.D.; Lewis H. Kuller, M.D., Dr.PH.; and Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Ph.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

The National Institutes of Health funded the study.

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Statements and conclusions of study authors published in American Heart Association scientific journals are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the association's policy or position. The association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at http://www.heart.org/corporatefunding.

American Heart Association

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