The boundary between normal and pathological aging is difficult to define because cognition is not homogenous in the elderly. Moreover, there is also a large heterogeneity in the performance within different domains of cognition and even within the subsystems of one specific domain, for example, memory. However, some general factors have been identified in normal cerebral aging, which might be important mediators between age and cognition.
There is a decrease in the capacity of working memory and information-processing speed as well as problems in the inhibition of nonrelevant information (Van der Linden et al., 1999). Thus, most elderly persons will exhibit mild difficulties in acquiring new information that do not have any repercussions on everyday activities.
Behavioral medicine research over the past several years has identified a number of characteristics that affect the development and course of cognitive impairment and coronary disease in elderly. Included among these psychosocial risk factors are hostility, depression, social isolation, high job strain, and low socioeconomic status.
The specific mechanisms whereby these factors influence the pathogenesis and prognosis of major causes of death such as coronary heart disease (CHD), but considerable research points to accompanying health behaviors (smoking, dietary habits, and alcohol consumption) and biological characteristics (altered functions of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems) as likely mediators.
Finally, research evaluating interventions targeting psychosocial risk factors in groups of patients with CHD and cognitive impairment offer considerable promise that secondary prevention will be shown to have an important place in the treatment and rehabilitation of these aging diseases. The purpose of this work is to review specifically cognitive impairment and coronary disease in elderly and call attention to the important but often overlooked a correlation in cognitive impairment and coronary heart disease in elderly.
Physical and psychological risk factors will be studied in relation to the development of coronary heart disease and cognitive impairment. This research, in which information regarding life events prior to sudden cardiac death was obtained, reveals that there is a reverse process where coronary heart disease can lead an individual to cognitive impairment.
Research on what can be done about the modifiable risk factors in order to prevent or at least minimize the chances of getting cognitive impairment and coronary heart disease receives detailed consideration in the work.
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