Bad memory link to heart attack


Written on Thursday, December 07, 2006 by Gemini

‘Forgetful People At 10% Higher Risk’

Being forgetful is bad for your heart. Those who have poor memories and slower reaction times are more likely to die from a heart attack, according to a 21-year study. Psychologist Beverly Shipley, who carried out the research, said the next step was to discover exactly why there was a link. She suggested that one possible explanation was that reaction time is an indicator of a body with better “system integrity”— how well it is wired together. She said one surprising outcome of the study was that both young and old adults showed the same link between cognition and heart trouble.

Even in the case of young people, memory problems could be used to identify those not normally thought to be at risk of heart disease. Shipley, member of Edinburgh University’s psychology department, studied more than 6,400 individuals. She found those who had slower reaction times, poorer memory and poor visual-spatial awareness had a higher chance of dying from cardiovascular or respiratory disease.

The link remained even after taking into account other factors usually associated with heart disease, like physical activity, blood pressure, obesity and smoking. Participants were aged between 18 and 99 and were first tested in 1984/85. The study was completed in 2005. Researchers found lower than average level of mental agility led to at least a 10% greater chance of heart disease. They also found a higher death rate from heart problems among those with poor mental agility.

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