Maintaining optimal health, both physical and cognitive, throughout the aging process is critical to minimizing healthcare costs and morbidity and mortality associated with diseases of aging. The integrity of the vascular system is essential for healthy aging. Aging-related structural and functional disturbances in the macro- or microcirculation contribute the development of cognitive dysfunction and declining physical performance. Early life factors, from birth through childhood and adolescence, may play an important role in successful cognitive and physical aging via the aging of the vascular system. In the proposed study we will examine the role of vascular aging in maintenance of cognitive and physical performance by recruiting 1,257 participants in the Bogalusa Heart Study cohort who participated in cardiovascular risk factors examinations at least twice in childhood and twice again in adulthood. Participants will undergo cognitive function testing, physical function assessments and vascular risk factor examination with noninvasive studies of vascular structure and function. Birth weight and childhood socioeconomic and risk factor data is available for all individuals. Longitudinal analysis will be used to examine the relationship of early life risk factrs to subclinical vascular disease markers, while linear models will be used to examine the role of vascular risk factors and subclinical markers in maintenance of cognitive and physical function. This study represents a unique opportunity because all vascular disease risk factors have been collected prospectively from early life to middle-age in this bi-racial (black/white), rural community, allowing for exploration of race and gender relationships with cognitive and physical function from mid-life. The proposed research will link vascular risk factors across the life span and subclinical vascular markers in early middle age with cognitive and physical performance in later middle age. In doing so, we will identify risk factors, timing and subpopulations for intervention that could reduce the incidence of cognitive and physical decline in old age and improve the rate of successful aging for persons across the nation.
The proposed research will link vascular risk factors across the life span and subclinical vascular measures in early middle age with cognitive and physical performance in later middle age. In doing so, we will identify risk factors, timing and subpopulations for intervention that could reduce the incidence of cognitive and physical decline in old age and improve the rate of successful aging for persons across the nation.
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