"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Heart attack extends brain age by 6 years

May 31, 2023 – New research shows that a heart attack ultimately results in faster mental decline, reminiscent of extending brain age by 6 years.

The study was published on Tuesday in JAMA Neurology and specifically investigated the consequences of a heart attack on the traditional aging strategy of the brain. It is normal for people's speed of thought, memory and talent to pay attention to say no as they become older – a process that doctors seek advice from as age-related cognitive decline.

Cardiovascular events equivalent to heart attacks and strokes have already been linked to cognitive problems. In this latest study, researchers desired to learn the way heart attacks affect general cognitive function, memory and the brain's so-called executive functions.

A heart attack had no effect on these three cognitive measures immediately after the event. However, all three measures were impaired within the years following the guts attack, and the person's race and gender also played a job within the severity of impairment.

Among women who had a heart attack, the decline was not as pronounced as amongst men who had a heart attack. And similarly, the impact of a heart attack on cognitive function was not as severe in blacks in comparison with whites.

The researchers analyzed data from 30,465 adults who had no history of heart attack, stroke, or dementia. The average age of the study participants was 64 years, 56% of the participants were women, and 29% of the participants were black. Over the course of the study period, 1,033 people suffered a heart attack.

The results “suggest that the prevention of [a heart attack] may be important for long-term brain health,” the authors write.

About 805,000 people within the United States suffer a heart attack annually, a condition that’s “a medical emergency in which blood supply to the heart is suddenly and severely reduced or interrupted, causing muscle death due to lack of oxygen,” based on a summary from Johns Hopkins Medicine, where the study's lead researcher, Michelle Johansen, MD, PhD, relies.

“Due to the fact that many people are at risk of heart attack, we hope that the results of our study will serve as a wake-up call for people to control vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol as soon as possible, as we have shown that a heart attack increases the risk of reduced cognition and memory in later life,” said Johansen, also an associate professor of neurology on the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in a opinion.

Two neurologists wrote in a comment The study was published saying that the findings point to vital next steps.

“What these epidemiological studies do not tell us is the reason for the post-[heart attack] acceleration of cognitive decline,” wrote Eric E. Smith, MD, MPH, of the University of Calgary and Lisa C. Silbert, MD, of Oregon Health & Science University. “Understanding the mechanisms for post-[heart attack] “The decline may provide the key to identifying patients at risk and treating them to prevent a decline.”