Cardiovascular disease (CVD) in older adults has been associated with varying degrees of cognitive dysfunction. Several mechanisms may explain this association, including impaired cardiovascular reactivity to autonomic nervous system (ANS) signaling. Reduced heart rate recovery following a stress test may be considered an indication of impaired ANS function (i.e., reduced parasympathetic activity). Participants were 47 older adults (5383 years) who underwent a treadmill stress test and were administered a comprehensive neuropsychological battery upon entry to phase II cardiac rehabilitation. Reduced parasympathetic activity was associated with impaired cognitive performance on a measure of global cognitive function and on tasks of speeded executive function and confrontation naming. These relationships suggest that changes in autonomic function may be mechanistically related to the impaired cognitive function prevalent in CVD patients. © 2012 Therese A. Keary et al.
Keary, T. A., Galioto, R., Hughes, J., Waechter, D., Spitznagel, M. B., Rosneck, J., … Gunstad, J. (2012). Reduced heart rate recovery is associated with poorer cognitive function in older adults with cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular Psychiatry and Neurology. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/392490