The Impact of Midlife Cardiovascular Health on Brain’s Well-Being
Co-Principal InvestigatorsJuan Domingo Gispert, PhD Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III (F.S.P.)
What is the impact of having vascular risk factors and asymptomatic cardiovascular disease during midlife on current and future brain’s health?
In middle-age, a decrease in brain metabolism in regions specifically affected in Alzheimer’s disease is linked to the presence of subclinical cardiovascular disease and vascular risk factors. Is this reduction in cerebral metabolism already associated with markers of brain injury, neuroinflammation and cognitive decline? Is this dependent on genetic factors, menopause and other modifiable/lifestyle/psychosocial factors? We will try to answer these questions and decipher which one is the cause and which one is the consequence.
The uniqueness of our approach lies in the longitudinal PESA cohort, a study of middle-aged asymptomatic individuals deeply characterized at the cardiovascular level for more than a decade, in which we recently identified a link between reduced brain’s health and high cardiovascular risk. Thanks to a breakthrough technology recently developed, we will now measure biomarkers of brain injury in the plasma of these individuals throughout all these years to understand the relationship between cardiovascular risk factors and disease with brain alterations, cognition and changes in life style. Understanding whether and how the presence of subclinical cardiovascular disease and modifiable cardiovascular risk factors (hypertension, obesity, high cholesterol, smoking…) during midlife impacts the brain’s health is of the upmost importance. Our study will further support the critical value of implementing primary cardiovascular prevention strategies early in midlife as a valuable therapeutic approach to delay or even stop downstream brain alterations, eventually leading to cognitive decline and development of neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s.