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Decreased Cardiac Function Linked to Faster Brain Aging

Last Updated: August 02, 2010.

Reductions in cardiac function, as measured by cardiac index, may be associated with accelerated aging of the brain, according to a study published online Aug. 2 in Circulation.

MONDAY, Aug. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Reductions in cardiac function, as measured by cardiac index, may be associated with accelerated aging of the brain, according to a study published online Aug. 2 in Circulation.

Angela L. Jefferson, Ph.D., of the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues evaluated 1,504 individuals from the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort who were free of clinical stroke, transient ischemic attack, or dementia (mean age, 61 years).

In multivariable-adjusted models, the researchers found that cardiac index was positively associated with total brain volume and information processing speed, as well as inversely associated with lateral ventricular volume. When excluding patients with clinically prevalent cardiovascular disease, the association between cardiac index and total brain volume remained. In post hoc analysis, the researchers found that participants in the bottom cardiac index tertile (values <2.54) and middle cardiac index tertile (values between 2.54 and 2.92) had brain volumes that were significantly lower than those of participants in the top cardiac index tertile (values >2.92).

"Whether lower cardiac index leads to reduced brain volumes and accelerates neurodegeneration on an eventual path to dementia is not yet clear," write the authors of an accompanying editorial. "What is known is that various vascular risk factors, including decrements in cardiac function, are determinants of dementia (both Alzheimer disease and variants of vascular cognitive disorders)."

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