Purpose: This study aimed to investigate the effect of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk and physical fitness on cognitive impairment in Korean elderly women.
Methods: In a cross-sectional design, a total of 308 Korean elderly women, aged 60 years or older, participated in this study. Measured parameters included the 10-year Framingham risk score (FRS), physical fitness (i.e., upper and lower body strength and flexibility and endurance), and cognitive performance based on Mini-Mental State Examination for dementia screening. The participants were classified as low (<10%) or intermediate and high (≥ 10%) risk groups based on the 10-year FRS and as unfit (lower 50%) or fit (higher 50%) on a composite z-score of physical fitness. Logistic regression was used to estimate the odd ratios (ORs) and confidence intervals (CIs) of cognitive impairment according to the 10-year FRS and physical fitness-based classification.
Results: The low FRS/unfit and intermediate or high FRS/unfit groups had significantly higher risks of cognitive impairment (OR, 3.714; 95% CI, 1.324- 10.418; p=0.013 and OR, 11.345; 95% CI, 4.810-26.762; p<0.001, respectively) compared with the low FRS/fit group (OR, 1). In particular, the elevated risk of cognitive impairment remained significant (OR, 3.876; 95% CI, 1.400- 10.726; p=0.009) even after adjustments for covariates such as age, body mass index, education, and physical inactivity.
Conclusion: The current findings suggest that an intervention targeting at both CVD risk reduction and physical fitness promotion is urgent as a preventive and/or therapeutic measure against declines in cognitive function in Korean elderly women.