Scoring low on thinking abilities linked to heart attack

Washington : If you wonder about your chances of having a heart stroke then just look back at your “thinking ability” score cards, claims a new study.

In a research conducted by Leiden University, scientists have claimed that people who have low scores on a test of executive function, higher-level thinking skills used to reason, problem solve and plan might be at higher risk of heart stroke.

Author Behnam Sabayan said that the result of their study shows that heart and brain function were more closely related than appearances would suggest.

He added that while these results might not have immediate clinical translation, they emphasise that assessment of cognitive function should be part of the evaluation of future cardiovascular risk.

During the study, researchers tested 3,926 people with an average age of 75 and without a history of heart attacks or strokes.

People in the lowest group of executive function thinking skills were 85 percent more likely to have a heart attack than those in the highest group. A total of 176 of the 1,309 people with low scores had heart attacks, compared with 93 of the 1,308 people with high scores, which translates to a rate of 44 heart attacks per 1,000 person-years for people with low scores compared with 22 heart attacks per 1,000 person-years for people with high scores.

Explaining the results Sabayan said that the performance on tests of thinking and memory are a measure of brain health as lower scores on thinking tests indicate worse brain functioning.

He added that worse brain functioning in particular in executive function could reflect disease of the brain vascular supply, which in turn would predict a higher likelihood of stroke and since blood vessel disease in the brain is closely related to blood vessel disease in the heart, that’s why low test scores also predicted a greater risk of heart attacks.

The research is published in the Journal Neurology. (ANI)