The effect of cardiorespiratory fitness, metabolic syndrome and cerebro-cardiovascular disease on cognition in older adults.
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Background: Numerous studies have reported on the positive influence of superior physical health on the preservation of cognitive functions as we age. For ekxample, serveral exercise interventions of varying lengths aiming at increasing cardiorespiratory fitness in elderly populations have shown better preservation of brain structures and associated cognitive functions. Other helath factors commonly know to affect cognition in old age are metabolic syndrome ( MetS) and various cardiovascular risk factors. Aim: We wanted to look at older adults` cardiorespiratory fitness (VO2peak), the prevalance of metabolic synrome (MetS) and risk for cerebro-cardiovascular disease in relation to performance on a battery of neuropychological tests. Method: A cross- sectional design was emplyed including 105 healthy older adults ( mean age 74 years). Cardiorespiratory fitness was assessed by graded maximal exercice testing, MetS was classified according to previous definitions, and cerebro-cardivascular disease was calculated using the atherosclerotic cardiovascular risk estimator developed by the American Heart Assocoation and the American College of Cardiology. Cognitive performance was addessed using the web-based neuropsychological test battery, Memoro. Results: Individuals with hugher VO2peak had faster processing speed, and there was a significant relationship between these two factors, where higher VO2peak predicted better processing speed. amd trends showed that this was true for ececutive functions as well. Having MetS or high risk of developing cerebro-cardiovascular disease within the next 10 years did not seem to affect performance on cognitive tests, althouh trends show that having more MetS factors mat contribute to better performance on cognivive tests. Conclusion: Speed of processing, and possibly executive functions are more sensitive to cardiorespiratory fitness compared to other measured of cognitive functions. Additionally, MetS may have a cognitively protective role after a certain age. whereas cerebro-cardiovascular disease did not seem to affect cognition in this population of older adults.