Having Heart Disease Can Impact the Brain Too

Sunday September 29 is World Heart Day. A recent study shows people diagnosed with heart disease may have more brain changes, impacting their memory and function, than people with healthy hearts.

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CLEVELAND – Many of us are concerned about heart and brain health as we age.

Now, research uncovers a new link between the two.

A recent study shows people diagnosed with heart disease may have more brain changes than those with healthy hearts.

Researchers studied 7,888 people over the age of 50 for more than a decade.

None of the participants had a history of heart attack, chest pain, stroke, or dementia at the start of the study.

Study results show that the people who went on to develop heart disease also experienced a more rapid decline in brain function than those who never had a heart event.

“What this does tells us, is that you have to be extra cautious about your brain health if you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease,” said Samir Kapadia, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, who did not take part in the study.

Dr. Kapadia said links between heart health and brain health have been found in the past.

However, previous research focused on the relationship between heart events and the likelihood of suffering a stroke, not a person’s memory and their ability to process information.

He said this study goes a step further than indicating people have a higher risk of developing stroke after heart attack.

“If you have heart disease, you have to worry about your brain too,” said Dr. Kapadia. “Any symptom of the brain that develops after your heart problem, should be taken seriously, and at least be presented to the doctor – whether a cardiologist or a primary care doctor – and see if they want to investigate it further.” 

Dr. Kapadia said more research needs to be done to find out why the relationship between heart health and brain health exists.

Complete results of the study can be found in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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