Heart Disease Can Cause Cognitive Decline, Says New Study

The two main organs of the body are connected in such a way that if the heart suffers, the risk of the brain getting effected is high. This connection is most obvious in how the risk of stroke is higher in patients of heart attack. However, a new research says that even patients who don’t have a stroke can experience a decline in their cognition for a long term after the diagnosis of a cardiovascular event.

What Does This New Study Reveal?

A new study which has been published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology says that people who have coronary heart disease have a higher risk of cognitive decline. This report revealed that people who had received a diagnosis of the heart condition received a lower score on tests of cognition including those that checked their orientation time and verbal memory.

This research further stamps on how the heart and the brain are connected. Previous research works in this area focus more on strokes and their connection to cardiovascular ailment. However, this new study found that adults who didn’t have stroke but had a heart attack or an angina, had an impact on their brain for an average of 12 years.

It was noted that patients of heart attack had faster decline in the memory department that those who had experienced an angina. The researchers explained that cardiovascular disease impacts small blood vessels and hence, disrupts the flow of oxygen to the brain’s regions. The risk of these two could be related to risk factors that both conditions shared such as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.

The process in which blood flow from the heart effects the brain is slow and how it works is not entirely clear yet. It is also not known yet whether external factors could also be at play here. For instance, scientists involved in the study didn’t exclude the influence of medications or ongoing treatments for patients of cardiovascular disease.

Though the changes that were noted in the scores of patients’ cognitive tests were small, scientists said that even a small change could increase the risk of dementia substantially over the years. Since no cures exist for this issue, it is essential to prevent the problem early on. Researchers said that, in this regard, some steps need to be taken.

The first one being that patients need to mention any concerns that they have about their memory or cognition to their doctors. Most patients skip doing so. Moreover, doctors must also discuss medications and ensure that they are taken as prescribed.


It is not a new finding that the heart and the brain are connected, and an impact of a heart-related incident could reach to the brain. While strokes are common examples of this, a new research notes that even in non-stroke cases patients, the risk of cognitive decline in patients of cardiovascular disease is higher. In this regard, such issues need to be detected early on for prevention because there is no cure for dementia, the risk of which piles up.