Middle age adults with high cholesterol levels and blood pressure apparently have greater chances of developing memory problems in later life. According to a recent study, middle-age men and women facing cardiovascular issues, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure are at an elevated risk of being diagnosed with early cognitive and memory problems. It was suggested that heart disease risk factors can contribute towards a cognitive decline of over 10 years.

The study followed 3,486 men and 1,341 women with an average age of 55 years who participated in cognitive tests for three times over 10 years. These tests aimed to measure reasoning, memory, fluency and vocabulary. Study subjects were provided with a Framingham risk score that is generally employed for predicting 10-year risk of a cardiovascular event. It is apparently based on age, sex, HDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, systolic blood pressure and whether they smoked or had diabetes.

“Our findings contribute to the mounting evidence for the role of cardiovascular risk factors, such as high cholesterol and blood pressure, contributing to cognitive problems, starting in middle age,” said study author Sara Kaffashian, MSc, with INSERM, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Paris. “The study further demonstrates how these heart disease risk factors can contribute to cognitive decline over a 10-year period.”

Those with higher cardiovascular risk supposedly had lower cognitive function and a faster rate of overall cognitive decline than subjects having the lowest risk of heart disease. In conclusion, authors linked a 10-percent higher cardiovascular risk with poorer cognitive test scores in all areas except reasoning for men and fluency in women. The threat for witnessing a cardiovascular event appeared connected with a 10-year faster rate of overall cognitive decline in both men and women as compared to those with lower cardiovascular risk.

The study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 63rd Annual Meeting in Honolulu April 9 to April 16, 2011.