Cardiovascular Disease and Cumulative Incidence of Cognitive Impairment: Longitudinal Findings from The Health and Retirement Study

Despite previous research suggesting that cardiovascular disease (CVD) accelerates cognitive decline, a study presented at the ACC.20 World Congress of Cardiology found no increased risk of cognitive impairment among patients with CVD. 

Researchers used biyearly data collated on adults 50 years and older (mean age at baseline, 70, 55% female) from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to compare the incidence of CI over 8 years in almost 1,900 participants newly diagnosed with CVD vs. almost 3,900 age-and gender-matched controls. The study defined CI as 11 or lower on the 27-point Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status based a previously accepted clinical outcome. A cumulative incidence function accounting for risk of death was used to assess the incidence risk of CI. 

Following analysis, the results revealed that CI developed in 1,335 participants over 8 years. Researchers observed that death was more common among participants with incident CVD (20.4% vs. 13.4%, P<0.001). A subsequent cumulative incidence analysis for CI, after adjusting for mortality, showed no discernible difference in incidence of cognitive impairment between the CVD and control groups at the conclusion of the study. 

The researchers wrote that these findings “may be due to appropriately accounting for the competing risk of death. 

Covello A. Cardiovascular Disease and Cumulative Incidence of Cognitive Impairment: Longitudinal Findings from The Health and Retirement Study. Presented at the ACC.20 World Congress of Cardiology; March 28-30, Chicago, IL.