Neurocognitive function and cardiovascular disease.

Research paper by Shari R SR Waldstein, Carrington Rice CR Wendell

Indexed on: 24 Apr '10Published on: 24 Apr '10Published in: Journal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD


Cardiovascular (CV) diseases and their risk factors negatively impact the brain and neurocognitive function prior to stroke, dementia, or mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Indeed, a progression of neurocognitive and neurobiological impairments may be associated with increasingly severe manifestations of CV risk and disease. In samples ranging from children to elderly, a broad spectrum of CV risk factors, and both subclinical and clinical CV diseases, have been related to decrements in cognitive function and cognitive decline across multiple domains of performance including executive functions, attention, learning and memory, perceptuo-motor speed, and others. In contrast to the MCI literature, the possibility of distinct subgroups has not been explored. Further, it remains unknown whether neurocognitive performance (or its pattern) per se can predict conversion to MCI and later dementia. We suggest that neurocognitive function may contribute to such prediction in concert with relevant radiological, genetic, biomedical, sociodemographic, and other data. To best do so, future research would benefit from inclusion of a breadth of neurocognitive tests that tap multiple domains of function and have historical sensitivity to vascular and neurodegenerative pathology, in addition to biological or radiological assessment of such pathology. Aggressive efforts at prevention and early intervention with CV risk may play a critical role in the prevention of MCI or dementia.