The study also found that the longer ago the heart disease had been diagnosed, the worse was the person’s cognitive performance and this effect was particularly marked in men.
The study is published online in Europe’s leading cardiology journal, the European Heart Journal  today (Wednesday 23 July); the authors say it is important because impaired cognition predicts the onset of dementia and death, while coronary heart disease (CHD) remains the leading cause of death in many western countries such as the UK.
“It is important to elucidate the link between these two diseases,” said Dr Archana Singh-Manoux, who led the research. “The prevalence of dementia rises with age, doubling every four to five years after the age of 60, so that over a third of people older than 80 are likely to have dementia.”
Dr Singh-Manoux, a Senior Research Fellow at University College London (UK) and INSERM (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale, France), continued: “This is the first, large study to examine the association between coronary heart disease and cognition. Until now, research on the link between cardiovascular disease and dementia has focused more on cerebrovascular disease than CHD. However, it is CHD and not cerebrovascular disease that makes up the bulk of cardiovascular disease and is a major health problem in the developed world.
“The major risk factors for CHD are cigarette smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. All of these are modifiable, and smoking, diet and physical exercise are key targets for prevention. Our results on the link between CHD and cognition underline the importance of these preventive measures by highlighting the impact of these risk factors not only on CHD but also on people’s cognitive functioning.”
As part of the long-running “Whitehall II” study, which was started in 1985 by Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Dr Singh-Manoux and her colleagues assessed the mental processes of 5837 out of 10308 civil servants working in Whitehall (London, UK), who were aged 61.
They measured verbal and mathematical reasoning, vocabulary, verbal fluency, short-term verbal memory and they also measured global cognitive status using a mini-mental-state-examination (MMSE). The researchers assessed CHD events, including non-fatal myocardial infarction and definite angina. The date of the cognitive testing was used to classify the first CHD event as having occurred within the last five years, between five to ten years ago, or over ten years ago.
They found that among both men and women a history of CHD was associated with lower scores for reasoning, vocabulary and their global cognitive status (MMSE), when compared to people who had no CHD history. In women, these effects were also seen for verbal fluency.
Men whose first CHD event was over ten years ago had lower scores for reasoning, vocabulary, semantic fluency (the part of verbal fluency relating to the categories of words) and MMSE. In women the analysis was on smaller number of CHD events, but revealed a trend for lower scores for semantic fluency if they were diagnosed with CHD over ten years ago. Dr Singh-Manoux said: “For example, in men the risk of poor performance on reasoning decreased by about 30% for every five years from the time of the first diagnosis of CHD.”
At this stage the researchers do not know why there is a link between CHD and poor cognitive function, or what the possible causal mechanisms might be. “It is possible that shared risk factors drive this association. It is also possible that heart disease influences cognition through cerebral embolism or decreased cerebral perfusion,” explained Dr Singh-Manoux.
She and her colleagues are collecting more data from the study in order to gain a greater understanding of the extent of the effect of CHD on cognitive functioning. A key aspect of their research is the need to collect data while people are still relatively young (middle-aged) as opposed to elderly when other age-related conditions could obscure or confound their findings.
“Our core hypothesis is that the identification of the risk factors for dementia needs to focus on the determinants of cognitive ageing in midlife and early old age,” said Dr Singh-Manoux. “Once people are very old, it becomes more difficult to identify risk factors as the elderly tend to have higher levels of other illnesses and conditions; also dementia itself can affect the identification of risk factors as it involves changes in diet and metabolism. There is an increasing consensus on this life-long view of dementia – that events happening in earlier life can have an impact on whether or not dementia develops in older age.”
Emma Mason | alfa
Oxygen can wake up dormant bacteria for antibiotic attacks
08.12.2016 | Penn State
NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology
07.12.2016 | Nanyang Technological University
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
08.12.2016 | Life Sciences
08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences