Age-related dementia and cognitive decline – Presse santé

Maintaining optimal levels of several heart-beneficial factors and behaviors is associated with a decreased risk of developing dementia and cognitive decline after age 65. The researchers relied on the concept of optimal cardiovascular health defined by the American Heart Association for the prevention of cardiovascular disease to reach their conclusion.

Age-related dementia and cognitive decline would be manageable by following 7 cardiovascular health recommendations. As part of a new epidemiological study conducted within the large French cohort of the 3 Cités initiated in 1999 to understand the impact of vascular risk factors in cognitive aging and dementia, researchers from Inserm (within from the Bordeaux Population Health Research Center and the Paris Cardiovascular Research Center) followed 6,626 adults aged 65 and over in France for 16 years. Several studies to date have shown the relevance of the prevention approach in the case of cardiovascular diseases. Given the biological links and the presence of common risk factors between cardiovascular disease and dementia, the research team focused on the benefits of preventing vascular risk factors for dementia and cognitive decline.

The 7 parameters of heart and brain health

The concept of “optimal cardiovascular health” as defined by the American Heart Association is based on 7 parameters that integrate 4 health behaviors:

-no smoking,

– have an optimal body weight,

– physical activity

– a healthy diet

and 3 biological components

  • have a cholesterol level,
  • a glucose level
  • blood pressure at an ideal level, without treatment.

This study shows that maintaining so-called optimal cardiovascular health (7 parameters at the ideal level) is associated with a significant reduction in the risk of developing dementia, and with an attenuation of the cognitive decline associated with it.

70% less risk of triggering dementia and cognitive decline

For example, each additional parameter at an ideal level is associated with a 10% reduction in the risk of dementia (if the 7 parameters are at an optimal level, the risk reduction is 70% compared to those with none ).

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If the goal is to achieve optimal cardiovascular health, the study shows that simply having a single parameter at the ideal level is associated with a reduced risk of dementia. Cécilia Samieri, in charge of the study, explains: “In practice, this objective seems more realistic and could make it possible to reach a greater number of people and therefore have greater effects. The promotion of health is a collective challenge for public authorities and health professionals, but which also implies that everyone is an actor in their own health.


Cécilia Samieri, Marie-Cécile Perier: Association of Cardiovascular Health Level in Older Age With Cognitive Decline and Incident Dementia. JAMA. 2018;320(7):657-664. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.11499


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