According to a study published online April 20 in Neurology, an accelerated trajectory of cardiovascular risk is predictive of dementia risk and an increased risk of memory decline.
Bryn Farnsworth von Cederwald, Ph.D., of Ume University in Sweden, and colleagues investigated how the ongoing trajectory of cardiovascular risk influences the risk of subsequent dementia and memory decline in a previously healthy, community-dwelling sample. Cardiovascular disease risk, as measured by the Framingham Risk Score, episodic memory performance, and dementia status were assessed in 1,244 participants at five-year intervals spanning 20 to 25 years.
The researchers discovered that in 60% of the sample, cardiovascular risk increased moderately over time, while in 18 and 22%, there was an accelerated increase and a minimal change, respectively. An accelerated cardiovascular risk trajectory predicted an increased risk of developing Alzheimer disease dementia (average risk ratio, 3.3 to 5.7) or vascular dementia (average risk ratio, 3.3 to 4.1) and was associated with an increased risk of memory decline (average risk ratio, 1.4 to 1.2). A stable cardiovascular risk trajectory appeared to partially mitigate Alzheimer disease dementia risk in APOE4 carriers.
“Our findings suggest that having an accelerated risk of cardiovascular disease, rapidly accumulating more risk factors such as high blood pressure and obesity, is predictive of dementia risk and associated with the emergence of memory decline,” Farnsworth von Cederwald said in a statement.