Does having better heart health reduce dementia risk in white and Black older Americans? Addressing known risk factors for heart disease such as body weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol throughout life could be the best way to prevent dementia in later life. Importantly, these risk factors can be controlled, but research is needed to understand the role of heart health in dementia risk and who might benefit most from improving their heart health.
There are differences between race and gender when it comes to both heart and brain health. Compared to whites, Blacks have a greater number of heart risk factors across the life-course and have a higher risk of dementia in later life. Older women may also have higher risks of heart disease and dementia than men. However, relatively few studies have been conducted and the findings have been inconsistent. There is still much to learn about how race and gender differences in heart health impacts dementia risk in later life.
The current study will use the latest guidelines from the American Heart Association to examine associations between ideal heart health and the rate of cognitive decline and dementia incidence in Black and white older men and women (>70 years) in the US Health Aging and Body Composition Study (Health ABC). The results of this study will be used to develop strategies to control heart disease to improve brain health in older adults.