Is Someone You Know at Risk of Heart Attack?

by | Aug 7, 2015 | Health & Healing

For older people without dementia, fuzzy thinking and lack of self control may be signs of higher risk for heart attack or stroke, a new European study suggests.

Older people who scored badly on a test of decision making and problem-solving – so-called executive function skills – had nearly double the risk of heart attack and 50 percent higher risk of stroke compared to people who did better on the tests.

Since lower scores on cognitive function tests might indicate previous vascular damage in the brain, the researchers expected a connection to stroke risk, but were surprised to see an increased risk for heart attack as well, said Dr. Behnam Sabayan of Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

“This might reflect that damage to the vessels is a global phenomenon in our body and when we see abnormalities in one organ we should think about the other organs as well,” Sabayan, a coauthor of the study, told Reuters Health by email. “This is another line of evidence showing that pathologies at the levels of heart or the brain are not independent.”

Neurologists and cardiologists should collaborate for early detection of older people at risk for either cardiac or brain vascular disorders, he said.

Researchers studied 3,926 older people in the Netherlands, Ireland and Scotland. The average age was 75 years old, and participants had either a history of heart disease or an increased risk for it due to high blood pressure, diabetes or smoking, but no history of an actual heart attack or stroke.

The researchers used four tests to assess the participants’ selective attention, decision processing speed, immediate memory and delayed memory.

Over three years of follow-up there were 375 coronary events, including heart attacks or deaths due to heart disease, and 155 strokes in the group.

The researchers divided the participants equally into three groups based on their executive function skills scores at the beginning of the study. Those in the lowest-scoring third were 85 percent more likely to develop coronary heart disease and 51 percent more likely to have a stroke than those in the highest-scoring third.

Those with lower scores were at higher risk even when the researchers accounted for age, gender, education, body mass index, blood pressure, total cholesterol, current smoking and history of diabetes.

There were 69 strokes in the low-scoring group, compared with 48 strokes among those with high scores.

Scores on the memory tests did not appear to be related to heart attack or stroke risk, the study team reports in Neurology.

“This is just adding to the evidence to support what we already know, there is a relationship between cardiovascular risk factors and cognition,” said Dr. Olaoluwa Okusaga of the University of Texas-Harris County Psychiatric Center in Houston, who was not part of the new study.

“This study is novel in that they identified a specific domain, executive function, as being predictive of cardiovascular risk,” Okusaga told Reuters Health.

Executive function includes making decisions and weighing options, so it could be that people with lower decision-making scores make poorer decisions in their daily lives that make them more prone to heart attack or stroke, he said.

Before doctors change what they do, this study should be replicated, he noted, but in the meantime, keeping mentally active by doing things like puzzles may help prevent cognitive decline.

Unlike innate intelligence, or IQ, cognitive abilities can change over time and are more vulnerable to exposure to factors like uncontrolled blood pressure in midlife, Sabayan said.

Older people with slower thought processing are less likely to follow physicians’ lifestyle and medical recommendations, he said.

“Therefore, our findings highlight that older subjects with impaired cognition need closer attention in terms of cardiovascular risk management,” he said.

“This does not mean that everyone should undergo cognitive assessment to determine their heart attack or stroke risk, instead it means when older patients present with cognitive problems their physician should take into account risk of future cardiovascular events and provide preventive care,” he said.

For the original article, visit reuters.com

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Joseph Mattera: 7 Traits of the Sown Life

Joseph Mattera: 7 Traits of the Sown Life

Paul said he was a "drink offering." This meant that he offered his very life, spirit, soul, and body, to the Lord and to His church as a "living sacrifice" (Num. 15:4-10; 2 Tim. 4:6; Rom. 12:1-2). He also said he not only "spent" but "was spent" for the gospel (2...

Michael Youssef: How You Can Prepare for Christ’s Return

Michael Youssef: How You Can Prepare for Christ’s Return

If you do an internet search asking questions such as "What does the Bible teach about hell?" some of the first few results will be from false teachers. Here are the titles of webpages that popped up at the top of my search: "Hell Is Not a Biblical Concept." "Jesus...

How You Can Activate Your Inner Warrior

How You Can Activate Your Inner Warrior

Did you know if you are a “born again believer in Christ Jesus” there is a warrior inside you? That’s right, you have an inner warrior. Sometimes you need to push pause. Sometimes you need to sit down and count the cost. There is a time to reevaluate. There is a time...

Prophecy: The Lord Says, ‘I Have Reset Time in Your Favor’

Prophecy: The Lord Says, ‘I Have Reset Time in Your Favor’

In the early morning of September 1, 2022, an angel of the Lord came to me. He was the most beautiful angel I had ever seen. He was probably 20 feet tall, had long, flowing dark hair and great, enormous wings. The night was around him, and stars were dancing all about...

Now or Never: It’s ‘Go Time’ For the Body of Christ

Now or Never: It’s ‘Go Time’ For the Body of Christ

Have you been feeling hopeless, sick, depressed, anxious or fearful over the course of these past two years? The enemy of our souls has been turning up the heat every way possible. But his plan is failing and we must remember, especially during the intensity of these...

RECENT ARTICLES

This Coach Can Help You Destroy Your Addiction to Pornography

Let’s talk about a subject most people want to avoid. Let’s talk about pornography. According to Covenant Eyes, statistics show that 28,258 users are watching pornography every second, and 20% of...
The Real Truth About the Marriage of Politics and Faith

The Real Truth About the Marriage of Politics and Faith

As I look back, I realize that God has given me a career path with some rather unique experiences. I have built bridges at the intersection of faith and government my whole life, and I have learned that serving people through a role in government can be just as...

Joyce Meyer: Winning the Battle Against Satan in Your Mind

Joyce Meyer: Winning the Battle Against Satan in Your Mind

If you have received Christ as your Savior, then you have an enemy. Did you know that? I know some people feel uncomfortable talking about the devil, but he is real and it’s important for us to face the truth about him so we can have a victorious life in Christ. Now,...

Pin It on Pinterest