Increases in heart disease risk factors may decrease brain function


WEBWIRE – Thursday, May 02, 2013

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Study Highlights:

EMBARGOED UNTIL 3 p.m. CT/4 p.m. ET, Thursday, May 2, 2013 
DALLAS, May 2, 2013 — Brain function in adults as young as 35 may decline as their heart disease risk factors increase, according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

“Young adults may think the consequences of smoking or being overweight are years down the road, but they aren’t,”  said Hanneke Joosten, M.D., lead author and nephrology fellow at the University Medical Center in Groningen, The Netherlands.

“Most people know the negative effects of heart risk factors such as heart attack, stroke and renal impairment, but they do not realize it affects cognitive health. What’s bad for the heart is also bad for the brain.”

The Dutch study included 3,778 participants 35- to 82-years-old who underwent cognitive function tests that measure the ability to plan and reason and to initiate and switch tasks. A separate test gauged memory function. The Framingham Risk Score determined their risk for cardiovascular events in the next 10 years.

Researchers found:

 “There clearly is a dose response among smokers, with heavy smokers having a lower cognitive function than light or non-smokers,” Joosten said. “It is likely that smoking cessation has a beneficial effect on cognitive function.”

Health professionals need to be aware of cognitive function in patients with risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular risk factors, especially those that are modifiable like smoking and obesity, need ongoing attention from the medical profession, government and food industry, she said. “Smoking cessation programs might not only prevent cancer, stroke and cardiovascular events, but also cognitive damage.”

Co-authors are Marlise E.A. van Eersel, M.D.; Ron T. Gansevoort, M.D., Ph.D.; Henk J.G. Bilo, M.D., Ph.D.; Joris P.J. Slaets, M.D., Ph.D.; and Gerbrand J. Izaks, M.D., Ph.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

The Dutch Alzheimer Foundation and Dutch Kidney Foundation funded the study.

For the latest heart and stroke news, follow @HeartNews on Twitter.

For stroke science, follow Stroke at @StrokeAHA_ASA.

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Contact Information
Karen Astle: (214) 706-1392; Karen.Astle@heart.org
Bridgette McNeill: (214) 706-1135; Bridgette.McNeill@heart.org
Julie Del Barto (broadcast): (214) 706-1330; Julie.DelBarto@heart.org
(1) 214-706-1173
ahamediarelations@heart.org


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