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Patients who receive a diagnosis of coronary heart disease are at higher risk for cognitive decline later on, a new study shows.
The study, published Monday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that scores on cognitive tests -- including verbal memory and orientation of time -- dropped faster after patients received such a diagnosis than they did leading up to it.
"This study adds to the increasing body of literature that showcases how the heart and brain work together," said Dr. Neelum T. Aggarwal, director of research for the Rush Heart Center for Women and a cognitive neurologist at its Cardiology Cognitive Clinic. She was not involved in the study.
"We are now seeing more issues related to cognitive function from heart disease as more people are living longer, and also undergoing more heart procedures, and placed on medications," Aggarwal wrote in an email.
The authors of the study say previous research on the issue has been a mixed bag, often focused on the role of conditions like strokes and sometimes showing a more rapid cognitive decline thereafter. But the new study found a longer-term impact on the brain, following up with stroke-free adults for a median of 12 years and looking at a subset who had been diagnosed with a heart attack or angina, a kind of chest pain resulting from decreased flow of blood to the heart.
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