Washington: Researchers have claimed that young adults with such cardiac risk factors as high blood pressure and elevated glucose levels have significantly worse cognitive function in middle age.
Kristine Yaffe, MD, a professor in the departments of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UCSF, who holds the Roy and Marie Scola Endowed Chair in Psychiatry, said that these cardiovascular risk factors are all quite modifiable.
She said that they already know that reducing these risk factors in midlife can decrease the risk of dementia in old age, asserting that if it turns out that the damage begins before middle age, they may need to expand their focus and work on reducing heart disease risks in earlier stages of life.
The study examines data from more than 3,300 18- to 30-year-olds in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, which began enrolling thousands of participants nationwide in 1985 to understand how heart disease develops in black and white adults.
Cardiac risk factors were measured every two to five years for 25 years, at which point those in the study underwent tests to measure their executive function, cognitive processing speed and verbal memory.
Those whose blood pressure and glucose exceeded recommended levels during the 25-year study performed worse on all three tests, while high cholesterol was associated only with poor verbal memory.
The study has been published in journal Circulation.