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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Minnesota: Enlarged Heart Linked to a Higher Risk of Dementia

Left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), also known as an enlarged heart, is associated with a nearly two times higher risk of dementia according to a recent University of Minnesota School of Public Health study published in the American Heart Journal.

LVH is a condition in which the muscle wall of the heart’s left pumping chamber (ventricle) becomes thickened (hypertrophy). The heart is a muscle, and like other muscles, it gets bigger if it is worked hard over time. The most common cause of LVH is high blood pressure (hypertension).

Researchers, led by Ms. Faye Norby, a research fellow and PhD student in the School of Public Health, studied participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, which is a large cohort from four communities in the U.S. that has been followed for more than 30 years.

[Photo: Ms. Faye Norby]

The study included 12,665 white and black individuals whose average age at the start of the study (1990-1992) was 57. Researchers tested participants for about 20 years on their cognitive function and the development of dementia.

The study found that:

“These results underscore the need for hypertension control to prevent injury to the brain tissue and the development of dementia,” said Ms. Norby. “We recommend that people get regular blood pressure checks throughout their adult life to monitor their blood pressure. If someone does have high blood pressure, it is important to treat it and try to get it back to a normal level so that he or she does not develop LVH.”