Cropped shot of senior man holding his chest and feeling pain suffering from heart attack outdoor at the park

People who experience adverse health events linked to cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack, appear to have a higher incidence of dementia, a new study has found. The results highlight the need for short- and long-term monitoring of cognition in these patients, researchers say.

Investigators followed a large cohort of participants aged approximately 70 years and older who had no prior CVD events or major cognitive impairments at baseline. The difference in dementia rates among those who experienced a CVD event and those who did not was not initially significant. But after excluding data from participants who died during the trial, dementia rates were higher in those who had a CVD-related health event than in those who did not.

The researchers also found an acute drop in processing speed and a greater decline in global cognition after incident CVD events, myocardial infarction or heart failure. Cardiovascular disease and heart failure also were linked to longer-term decline in delayed recall and verbal fluency.

In addition to watching for cognitive changes after cardiovascular health events, the results underscore the importance of CVD prevention in order to maintain cognitive function and independence in older adults, the authors concluded.

The results held after controlling for a variety of risk factors. Full findings were published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

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