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Middle-aged women with heart disease suffer a worse decline in their thinking and memory skills than men, according to a study.

US researchers made their finding even though men are more likely to suffer from heart problems, strokes, diabetes and high blood pressure.

The scientists, from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, analysed 1,857 volunteers without dementia who were aged 50 to 69 at the start of the study. 

Seventy-nine per cent of them had at least one cardiovascular condition or risk factor.

Middle-aged women with heart disease suffer a worse decline in their thinking and memory skills than men, according to a study. US researchers made their finding even though men are more likely to suffer from heart problems, strokes, diabetes and high blood pressure (stock pic)

Middle-aged women with heart disease suffer a worse decline in their thinking and memory skills than men, according to a study. US researchers made their finding even though men are more likely to suffer from heart problems, strokes, diabetes and high blood pressure (stock pic)

Middle-aged women with heart disease suffer a worse decline in their thinking and memory skills than men, according to a study. US researchers made their finding even though men are more likely to suffer from heart problems, strokes, diabetes and high blood pressure (stock pic)

Participants were evaluated for three years, and took tests for memory, language, executive function and spatial skills.

Heart disease was associated with more than a two-fold greater decline in cognitive test scores for women compared with men.

The team, whose study is published in the journal Neurology, also discovered that diabetes, heart disease and high levels of fat in the blood were associated with a decline in language scores only in women.

Study author Michelle Mielke said: ‘Our results show that midlife cardiovascular conditions and risk factors were associated with midlife cognitive decline, but the association is stronger for women.

‘Specifically, we found that certain cardiovascular conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and dyslipidemia, which is abnormally high levels of fats in the blood, had stronger associations with cognitive decline in women compared to men.’

Writing in the journal Neurology, the researchers said further investigation is needed into why women and men were affected differently.

Study author Michelle Mielke said: ¿Our results show that midlife cardiovascular conditions and risk factors were associated with midlife cognitive decline, but the association is stronger for women.'

Study author Michelle Mielke said: ¿Our results show that midlife cardiovascular conditions and risk factors were associated with midlife cognitive decline, but the association is stronger for women.'

Study author Michelle Mielke said: ‘Our results show that midlife cardiovascular conditions and risk factors were associated with midlife cognitive decline, but the association is stronger for women.’

Previous studies have suggested that it could be down to hormones, genetics, lifestyle factors or structural brain development.

The team warned their study does not prove that middle-aged women who have cardiovascular risk factors will have cognitive decline, but it shows an association.

‘Middle-aged adults, especially women, with some cardiovascular conditions or risk factors may represent critical subgroups for early monitoring,’ they added.

Heart disease includes conditions that narrow or block blood vessels, which can lead to a heart attack, angina and some strokes.

It is the top killer of women in the UK, where there are currently more than 3.5 million women living with the condition.

Source: Daily Mail UK

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