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Neurobiol Aging. 2014 Jun;35(6):1396-403. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2013.12.008. Epub 2013 Dec 18.

Cardiovascular risks and brain function: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study of executive function in older adults.

Author information

1
Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.
2
Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
3
Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA; Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.
4
Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.
5
Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, NY, USA.
6
Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health, Baltimore, MD, USA; Schools of Nursing, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA.
7
Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA; Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health, Baltimore, MD, USA. Electronic address: mcarlson@jhsph.edu.

Abstract

Cardiovascular (CV) risk factors, such as hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia are associated with cognitive impairment and risk of dementia in older adults. However, the mechanisms linking them are not clear. This study aims to investigate the association between aggregate CV risk, assessed by the Framingham general cardiovascular risk profile, and functional brain activation in a group of community-dwelling older adults. Sixty participants (mean age: 64.6 years) from the Brain Health Study, a nested study of the Baltimore Experience Corps Trial, underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging using the Flanker task. We found that participants with higher CV risk had greater task-related activation in the left inferior parietal region, and this increased activation was associated with poorer task performance. Our results provide insights into the neural systems underlying the relationship between CV risk and executive function. Increased activation of the inferior parietal region may offer a pathway through which CV risk increases risk for cognitive impairment.

KEYWORDS:

Brain function; Cardiovascular risk; Executive function; Framingham risk score; Older adults; fMRI

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