HealthDay News — For elderly, postmenopausal women, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is associated with increased risk of cognitive decline, according to a study published online in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Bernhard Haring, MD, MPH, from the University of Würzburg in Germany, and colleagues examined whether CVD is associated with the risk for cognitive decline in a prospective follow-up study involving 6,455 cognitively intact postmenopausal women aged 65 to 79 years.

Cognitive decline was identified based on the incidence of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or probable dementia (PD) via the modified mini-mental state examination score, neurocognitive and neuropsychiatric examinations.

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During a median follow-up of 8.4 years, the researchers found that women with CVD versus those without CVD tended to have increased risk for cognitive decline (hazard ratio [HR], 1.29; 95% CI: 1.00 to 1.67).

The highest risks were seen for those with myocardial infarction (HR, 2.10; 95% CI: 1.40 to 3.15) and other vascular disease (HR, 1.97; 95% CI: 1.34 to 2.87). A moderate association was seen for angina pectoris and cognitive decline (HR, 1.45; 95% CI: 1.05 to 2.01), but there were no significant associations for atrial fibrillation or heart failure.

For women without CVD, the risk of cognitive decline was increased with hypertension and diabetes. For women with CVD, the risk of MCI/PD tended to increase with diabetes. Adiposity was not associated with the risk of cognitive decline.

“More research is warranted on the potential of CVD prevention for preserving cognitive functioning,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Haring B et al. J Am Heart Assoc. 2013; 2: e000369.