Stroke and Cognitive impairment Analysis using Neuroepidemiology


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SCAN focuses on the relationship between cognition and vascular health. We do so by focusing on a couple core diseases of both the nervous system and the cardiovascular system.

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a major cause of increased morbidity and mortality, particularly in our aging and overweight population. The American Heart Association estimates that 5.7 million people are living with heart failure in this country, with 550,000 new cases diagnosed per year. CHF is a condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. According to the Center for Disease Control about half of the people who have heart failure die within 5 years of diagnosis, accounting for more than 55,000 deaths each year. We hope to study patterns of neuropsychologic deficit in individuals undergoing management for chronic decompensated heart failure, and to explore whether the severity of heart failure is associated with severity of cognitive deficit. 

With the aging of the U.S. population, the importance of developing preventions and treatments for dementia is increasingly apparent. Evidence suggests that certain vascular risk factors like hypertension, smoking and diabetes, especially when they occur in midlife, may contribute to risk for dementia in late life, and possibly even to Alzheimer’s dementia (AD), the most common cause of dementia. Thus, addressing the contributing factors related to vascular disease may be an important element in dementia prevention. What is not well understood is whether vascular risk factors actually cause the changes in the brain that cause AD (specifically, b-amyloid plaques) or if having both Alzheimer’s and vascular changes in the brain together makes the dementia worse.