Neurology Insights

Higher Diet Quality Linked to Less Cognitive Decline

Healthy Diet Eating Index Chart

A diet considered high in quality according to a healthy eating index preserves cognition in patients at high risk for cardiovascular disease and mental decline, results of a new study suggest.

The research extends findings of previous studies, as it included a large cohort of middle-aged and elderly subjects from 40 countries, said lead author Andrew Smyth, MMedSc, research fellow, Population Health Research Institute, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

“The take-home message from this study is that high diet quality, which is consistent with current healthy eating guidelines, is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline and suggests that healthy eating may reduce the risk of cognitive decline in addition to the previously reported associations with cardiovascular disease,” Dr Smyth told Medscape Medical News.

The new analysis was published online May 6 in Neurology.

40 Countries

The study included participants in two parallel, multinational, double-blind, randomized trials with similar protocols conducted in 733 centers in 40 countries that investigated ramipril, an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, and telmisartan, an angiotensin receptor blocker.

The studies were the Ongoing Telmisartan Alone and in Combination with Ramipril Global Endpoint Trial (ONTARGET) and the Telmisartan Randomized Assessment Study in ACE Intolerant Subjects With Cardiovascular Disease (TRANSCEND) study.

These trials included 31,456 subjects aged 55 years and older with a history of one or more of coronary, cerebral, or peripheral artery disease or high-risk diabetes mellitus. The primary outcome in both trials was the first occurrence of the composite of cardiovascular disease death, nonfatal myocardial infarction, nonfatal stroke, or hospitalization for congestive heart failure.

For the current analysis, only those participants who had completed a Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) at baseline and at least once during follow-up were included.

The researchers defined cognitive decline as a decrease of 3 or more points in the MMSE score, computed by subtracting the score at the last follow-up visit from the baseline score.

For dietary information, researchers used food intake information recorded in a qualitative Food Frequency Questionnaire containing 20 items. With this information, they assessed diet quality using the modified Alternative Healthy Eating Index.

BY: Pauline Anderson – May 19, 2015

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