Older adults scoring poorly in higher-level thinking skills--those used to reason, plan, and solve problems--are significantly more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke, suggests a group of scientists, who found that seniors with the lowest scores of so-called "executive function" thinking skills were at an 85% higher risk of heart attack and 51% increased risk of stroke compared to those with the highest scores.
The study indicates that heart and brain function are closely tied, indicates study coauthor Behnam Sabayan, a post-doctoral research fellow at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands. 'This might reflect that damage to [blood] vessels is a global phenomenon in our body and, when we see abnormalities in one organ, we should think about the other organs as well."
However, this study does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between poor thinking skills and the incidence of heart attack and stroke, merely an association between the two. "I think other factors can also play roles," Sabayan explains. For example, he suggests that people who have a slower thought process may find it more difficult to follow their doctors' advice.
Most heart attacks and strokes are triggered by clots in arteries, cutting off blood supply to portions of the heart or brain. Heart disease...