In a new study, researchers found that people with incidental coronary heart disease are more likely to have faster cognitive decline in the long run.
This means after a heart attack, cognitive decline may become faster.
Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women.
It occurs when coronary arteries become damaged due to a build-up of fat and cholesterol.
It can result in a heart attack or angina when the heart cannot get the blood or oxygen it needs.
In the study, the team examined a total of 7,888 stroke-free participants from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA).
ELSA is a community-based, biannual, cohort study of adults age 50 and older, from 2002—2017.
The team used three cognitive tests to assess participants’ cognitive function across a 12-year follow-up period.
During the study period, 5.6% of participants experienced a heart attack or angina.
Those with coronary heart disease showed faster rates of cognitive decline in all three tests.
Patients diagnosed with angina showed a decline in temporal orientation, and heart attack patients had big cognitive decline in verbal memory and semantic fluency, and worse overall cognitive decline.
The team says that even small differences in cognitive function can result in an increased risk of dementia in the long-term.
Early detection and intervention are essential to delay the progression to dementia.
Patients with a heart attack or angina need careful monitoring of their cognitive functions in the years following a diagnose of coronary heart disease.
This is one of the largest longitudinal studies focusing on the progression of cognitive decline before and after diagnosis of coronary heart disease.
The lead author of the study is Wuxiang Xie, Ph.D., a research fellow at the Imperial College School of Public Health in London.
The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
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