Getting to the Heart of Dementia
~ by Damion Drilla
Dementia isn’t all about aging, studies show. Health in mid-life can have a marked effect on cognitive ability later on.
A British study of 10,308 people, mostly men, followed the subjects from roughly the ages of 35-55 (the study started in 1985) to about 60-75 years (the study ended in 2004).
Coronary heart disease in midlife was found to be linked to lower cognition in later years. In men, heart disease was linked to lower reason, vocabulary, and MMSE scores. In women, it corresponded additionally to lower phonemic and semantic fluency.
The longer the heart disease – meaning, the earlier it was contracted – the greater the drop in cognitive ability over the years. This suggests that heart disease creates an ongoing condition that continuously deteriorates mental function until dementia kicks in.