Journal Scan

Cardiovascular risk factors linked to accelerated cognitive decline at midlife

Posted on

Hypertension, diabetes and smoking at midlife are associated with accelerated cognitive decline at midlife, according to a study published in Neurology.

Hypertension, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, and current cigarette smoking were measured at baseline in 2675 middle-aged adults (mean age: 50.2±3.6, 57% female, 45% black) and noted in 31%, 11%, 43%, 9%, and 15%, respectively. Cognitive tests of memory, executive function, and processing were administered at baseline and 5 years later.

Over 5 years, 5% (n = 143) of patients had accelerated cognitive decline. After multivariable adjustment, smoking, hypertension, and diabetes were associated with increased likelihood of accelerated decline whereas obesity and high cholesterol were not.

Accelerated decline was more likely with multiple cardiovascular risk factors.

“These results identify potential modifiable targets to prevent midlife cognitive decline and highlight the need for a life course approach to cognitive function and aging,” the authors concluded.


Yaffe K, Bahorik AL, Hoang TD, et al. Cardiovascular risk factors and accelerated cognitive decline in midlife: the CARDIA Study. Neurology. 2020; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000010078.