Purpose of Study There is growing evidence that mid-life cardiovascular (CV) risk factors such as untreated hypertension, diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia and physical inactivity predispose people to various forms of late-life cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer's disease. How early in life these factors begin to operate remains unknown. The Bogalusa Heart Study, an ongoing, long term community study of childhood and young adulthood CV risk factors in a biracial population, offers an ideal opportunity to examine the early antecedents of later life cognitive decline.
Objective To examine the feasibility of evaluating cognitive function in the present middle-aged BHS cohort and its relation to present and early life CV risk factors.
Methods Participants in the Bogalusa Heart Study, ages 24 to 44 years, were individually administered a battery of standard neuropsychological tests of verbal fluency, reading, digit span and similarities (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale), and the logical memory, verbal paired associates and visual reproduction tests from the Wechsler Memory Scale (third edition). Preliminary statistical correlations of test scores with various CV risk factors, e.g. systolic and diastolic blood pressure, were performed.
Summary of Results The battery takes approximately 45 minutes to complete. Having flexible times to administer the battery was helpful in increasing enrollment. Participants were eager to participate. Although a few expressed some anxiety about their performance, all were able to complete the battery. Preliminary analysis of the correlations between the test results and CV risk data from the first 35 participants has allowed us to compute the power needed for a larger planned study.
Conclusions The protocol is well received by participants, and a large scale study is feasible in the BHS cohort. Screening will continue until we obtain 100-120 participants. At that time we will examine correlations between test scores and CV risk factors and prepare a major proposal to examine the early CV risk factors that impact cognitive functioning in middle life.