• Sunday, July 14, 2024

HEALTH

Heart attack potential factor in long-term cognitive decline: Study

The assessment encompassed various aspects of cognition, including global or overall cognition over time, as well as memory and executive functioning

It was observed that individuals who had experienced heart attacks tended to be older and predominantly male (Representative Image: iStock)

By: easterneye.biz Staff

According to a recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine in the US, individuals who have experienced a heart attack exhibit a notably faster decline in cognitive abilities over the years following the cardiac event.

The research involved an extensive analysis of six separate large-scale studies conducted between 1971 and 2019, comparing cognitive changes in individuals who had suffered heart attacks with those who were similar in all aspects except for not having experienced a heart attack.

The results of the study have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Neurology.

“Due to the fact that many people are at risk for having a heart attack, we hope that the results of our study will serve as a wake-up call for people to control vascular risk factors like high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol as soon as they can since we have shown that having a heart attack increases your risk of decreased cognition and memory later on in life,” said Michelle Johansen, an associate professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

A heart attack, also known as myocardial infarction, is a critical medical condition in which the blood flow to the heart is abruptly and severely restricted or blocked, leading to the death of heart muscle cells due to insufficient oxygen supply.

Although the researchers did not observe significant cognitive decline immediately after the initial heart attack, individuals who experienced a heart attack displayed a decline in cognitive test performance over the subsequent years.

The study included a sample of 30,465 individuals who had not previously experienced a heart attack, stroke, or dementia at the time of their initial cognitive assessment. Among this group, 1,033 individuals went on to suffer at least one heart attack, with 137 of them experiencing two heart attacks.

In terms of the overall sample, 29 per cent of participants were identified as Black, 8 per cent as Hispanic, and 56 per cent as women. It was observed that individuals who had experienced heart attacks tended to be older and predominantly male.

The researchers evaluated different cognitive domains of the participants by scoring various aspects of their cognition through a series of cognitive tests. These scores were then combined to represent a single cognitive domain. A decrease in points indicated a decline in that specific cognitive domain.

The assessment encompassed various aspects of cognition, including global or overall cognition over time, as well as memory and executive functioning.

Executive functioning refers to the cognitive ability to make complex decisions and carry out tasks that involve planning, problem-solving, and cognitive flexibility.

Johansen said that the next steps were to look at other aspects of heart health and how they might affect brain health.

“We have shown that preventing heart attacks may be one strategy to preserve brain health in older adults,” she said.

“Now we need to determine what specifically is causing the cognitive decline over time,” she added.

(PTI)

 

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