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Women with heart disease at greater risk of cognitive problems

London: Women with heart disease may be at three times the risk of developing problems with thinking that could lead to dementia, a new study has claimed.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic in US, found that older women with heart disease were three times more likely to go on to develop problems with their thinking skills, such as problem solving, language and judgement than healthy women.

The problems are associated with certain types of dementia although they do not involve memory loss.

It is thought that heart disease affects the general health of the blood vessels which may affect blood flow to the brain.

"Prevention and management of cardiac disease and vascular risk factors are likely to reduce the risk," lead author, Dr Rosebud Roberts, a health sciences researcher at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, said.

The team evaluated 2,719 people aged between 70 to 89 at the beginning of the study and every 15 months after.

Of the 1,450 without mild cognitive impairment at the beginning, 669 had heart disease and 59 or 8.8 per cent, developed non-amnestic mild cognitive impairment.
By comparison 34 or 4.4 per cent of 781 who did not have heart disease developed non-amnestic mild cognitive impairment.

Overall it meant that the risk of thinking problems but not memory loss were 77 per cent higher in those with heart disease.

When broken down by sex, it was found the majority of this effect was accounted for by women who had a three fold increased risk if they had heart disease.

The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Neurology.