While some individuals recover and resume their normal lives after experiencing a cardiac failure, others victims may have to deal with consequential physical damages such as the brain damage as heart failure causes loss of grey matter in brain and results in decline in mental process.
Higher cardiovascular risk scores may predict cognitive decline including working memory, episodic memory, and the perceptual speed which results in neurodegeneration diseases, says a study published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology JACC.
Higher cardiovascular burden not only causes fast decline in cognitive memory but it is also significantly associated with formation of vascular lesions including brain tissue damage or formation of abnormal blood vessels with altered blood flow and altered neurons with lost functionality called neurodegeneration resulting in respective neurological disorders.
The prospective study of older individuals and revealed that most predisposed neurodegenerative disorders prerequisite to cardiac failures include dementia and Alzheimer’s. The global incidence of Alzheimer and dementia including United States is rising steeply. More than 50 million people are suffering from dementia and over 6 million people are suffering from Alzheimer’s including all age groups, says Alzheimer’s association.
The most affected age group is 65 or above. More than 5.8 million individuals aged 65 and above are suffering from Alzheimer’s associated dementia in 2020 and 80% are reported more than 75 years old. Each 1 in 10 65 years old person has Alzheimer’s dementia which is the 10 % of the people. The numbers are expected to increase up to 14 million by mid of the century according to the Alzheimer’s Association 2020 report.
The study explains the link between heart and brain
The study focused on area of cognition in affected individuals like memory and speed processing. It helps to elucidate the complex interrelations between brain and heart functioning. The study included 1588 dementia free individuals with average age of 79.5 years and followed them for up to 21 years.
There are many specific cardiovascular risk factors, and each can either individually, or in combination, push the fast-forward button towards different aspects of cognitive decline, Dr. Richard Isaacson, director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian.
The study revealed that incidence of rapid decline in working memory, episodic memory, and speed to perceive things is higher in adults who have had heart attack or associated cardiovascular problems compared to those with reduced cardiovascular risk. The group of scientists from Tianjin Medical University in China found that individuals with higher cardiovascular risk had smaller hippocampus which plays an essential role in consolidation of information from short-term to long-term memory. Moreover, the patients had reduced grey matter, which is involved in perception and reduced total brain volume with damaged white matter which considerably affects brain learning and relaying information.
High blood pressure and diabetes can accelerate shrinkage of the brain. High cholesterol can increase the bad protein that builds up in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. Decreased blood flow can cause ‘white spots’ on brain scans that can lead to slowed processing speed, Dr. Richard Isaacson, director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian.
However, the study was limited as the older white women were major proportion of the cohort. Moreover, the risk factors that are potentially associated with cognitive impairment are not fully assessed in this study and needs further elucidation.