Las cardiovascular diseases can have a very negative impact on the brain healthespecially if they appear during youth, according to a study that has found that people who develop these pathologies at an early age have up to triple the risk of suffering cognitive and memory problems when they reach middle age.
Heart problems and strokes had already been associated with a increased risk of cognitive decline y dementia in the case of older adults, explained Xiaqing Jiang, from the University of California (United States) and author of the study, adding that there is less information about how these diseases affect cognition and brain health throughout life. life when manifested before the age of 60.
The results of this new research have been published in Neurologythe medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, and show that cardiovascular events early in life are associated with a loss of cognitive abilities, more rapid cognitive decline, and a poor brain health in middle age.
Early cardiovascular disease and brain deterioration
The research involved 3,146 people who were between 18 and 30 years old when the study began and who were followed up to 30 years, so that at the end they had an average age of 55 years. 5% of the participants (147) were diagnosed with early cardiovascular disease; this group included those who experienced coronary cardiopathy, stroke, congestive heart failure, carotid artery disease o peripheral arteriopathy before the age of 60. The mean age of the first cardiovascular event was 48 years.
“Our research suggests that your 20s and 30s are a crucial time to start protecting brain health through cardiovascular disease prevention and intervention”
After three decades of follow-up, the participants had to take five cognitive tests that measured thinking and memory abilities, such as global cognition, processing speed, executive function, delayed verbal memory, and verbal fluency. The researchers found that individuals who had been diagnosed with early cardiovascular disease had worst results in all tests than those who did not suffer from these pathologies. For example, in a test in which they had to remember a list of words after 10 minutes, which scored between 0 and 15, participants with early cardiovascular disease obtained an average score of 6.4 compared to 8.5, of the that they did not suffer from it.
In a test that assessed global cognition, with scores between zero and 30, patients with early cardiovascular disease had a mean score of 21.4, while those in the healthy group had a mean score of 23.9. On this test, a score of 26 or higher is considered normal, while people with mild cognitive impairment have an average score of 22.
Some participants took two sets of cognitive tests at 25 and 30 years into the study, and the researchers found that early cardiovascular disease was associated with a three times greater likelihood of accelerated cognitive decline over five years, and that 13% of people with early cardiovascular disease experienced accelerated cognitive decline compared to 5% of people without the disease.
“Our research suggests that your 20s and 30s are a crucial time to start protecting brain health by preventing and intervening in cardiovascular disease,” Jiang said. Preventing these diseases can delay the onset of cognitive decline and promote a healthier brain throughout life.”