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Cardiovascular disease leads to higher risk of dementia

PITTSBURGH, May 9 People with cardiovascular disease have an elevated risk of developing dementia, including both Alzheimers disease and vascular dementia, according to a study being presented May 9 at the annual meeting of the American Geriatric Society in Washington, D.C.

The study, by Anne B. Newman, M.D., M.P.D., a geriatrician at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology, investigated the associations between the risk of dementia, Alzheimers disease and vascular dementia in people with a history of clinical cardiovascular disease (heart attack, angina or peripheral vascular disease) or markers for cardiovascular disease (including ECG abnormalities, left ventricular hypertrophy, carotid artery thickness or carotid stenosis).

We found that those with cardiovascular disease had an increased risk of dementia of about 30 percent, only partially explained by stroke, Dr. Newman said. Although the relative risk was moderate, the high prevalence of cardiovascular disease coupled with the high risk of dementia in older adults would suggest that prevention of cardiovascular disease may be the most effective preventive measure we have for the prevention of dementia.

The study is part of the Cardiovascular Health Study, which included 5,201 people aged 65 and older in 1989/90 and an additional 687 African-Americans enrolled in 1992/93 from four U.S. communities. Ten annual clinical exams took place from study entry until 1999. These exams included cognitive testing and other physical, psychosocial and laboratory measures. Of that group, 3,602 participants who had undergone an MRI in 1992/93 were selected for further cognitive assessment, which was concluded in 1999.

The study found that of the 3,602 participants in the Cognition Study Group, 480 had some type of dementia. Of these, 330 had Alzheimers disease (69 percent), 52 had vascular dementia (11 percent), 76 had mixed vascul
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Contact: Frank Raczkiewicz
412-624-2607
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
9-May-2002


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