Coronary heart disease (CHD) has been linked with cognitive decline and dementia in several studies. CHD is strongly associated with blood pressure, but it is not clear how blood pressure levels or changes in blood pressure over time affect the relation between CHD and dementia-related pathology. The aim of this study was to investigate relations between CHD and cortical thickness, gray matter volume and white matter lesion (WML) volume on MRI, considering CHD duration and blood pressure levels from midlife to three decades later. The study population included 69 elderly at risk of dementia who participated in the Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Aging and Dementia (CAIDE) study. CAIDE participants were examined in midlife, re-examined 21 years later, and then after additionally 7 years (in total up to 30 years follow-up). MRIs from the second re-examination were used to calculate cortical thickness, gray matter and WML volume. CHD diagnoses were obtained from the Finnish Hospital Discharge Register. Linear regression analyses were adjusted for age, sex, follow-up time and scanner type, and additionally total intracranial volume in GM volume analyses. Adding diabetes, cholesterol or smoking to the models did not influence the results. CHD was associated with lower thickness in multiple regions, and lower total gray matter volume, particularly in people with longer disease duration (>10 years). Associations between CHD, cortical thickness and gray matter volume were strongest in people with CHD and hypertension in midlife, and those with CHD and declining blood pressure after midlife. No association was found between CHD and WML volumes. Based on these results, long-term CHD seems to have detrimental effects on brain gray matter tissue, and these effects are influenced by blood pressure levels and their changes over time.
San Fransisco: Public library of Science , 2014. Vol. 9, no 10, e109250- p.