Cardiovascular Risk Factors

Cardiovascular risk tests useful predictor of memory loss

Cardiovascular risk factors like smoking may be a useful indictor of memory lossA new study has suggested that risk prediction tests and tools that assess future risk of heart disease and stroke may be more useful predictors of memory loss and decline in thinking ability, than a dementia risk score.

This study, published in Neurology®, compares heart risk scores with a dementia risk score for the first time to assess decline in cognitive abilities ten years later. Involving 7,830 men and women with an average age of 55, the study was comprehensive. At the start of the study, risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) and dementia were calculated for each individual. To calculate heart disease risk, the following factors were assessed:

  • Age
  • Blood pressure
  • Treatment for high blood pressure
  • HDL cholesterol
  • Total cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes

The risk score for stroke included many of the above in addition to a history of heart disease and presence of cardiac arrhythmia. The risk score for dementia also included age, blood pressure and total cholesterol but also assessed education, BMI, exercise and presence of the APOE ε4 gene, which is associated with dementia. The study took place over 10 years, during which memory and thinking ability were measured three times.

The study demonstrated that all of the above mentioned risk scores predicted a 10 year decline in cognitive tests. Interestingly, the cardiovascular risk scores displayed a stronger link with cognitive decline compared to the dementia risk score. Risk of heart disease and stroke were shown to relate to a decline in all cognitive tests except memory, and dementia risk was not associated with decline in memory and verbal fluency.

Therefore, cardiovascular risk scores may provide advantages over the dementia risk score as they are already in use by physicians and could have uses in prevention and targeting changeable risk factors. In addition to these findings, the study also draws attention to the fact that cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, have negative effects on cognitive abilities.



Randox Laboratories offer two different cardiac arrays capable of simultaneously testing a single patient sample for multiple cardiac markers.  For more information, visit the Disease States section of the website.

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