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Background: Ischemic heart disease (IHD) has been linked with poor brain outcomes. The brain magnetic resonance imaging–derived difference between predicted brain age and actual chronological age (brain-age delta in years, positive for accelerated brain aging) may serve as an effective means of communicating brain health to patients to promote healthier lifestyles. Objectives: The authors investigated the impact of prevalent IHD on brain aging, potential underlying mechanisms, and its relationship with dementia risk, vascular risk factors, cardiovascular structure, and function. Methods: Brain age was estimated in subjects with prevalent IHD (n = 1,341) using a Bayesian ridge regression model with 25 structural (volumetric) brain magnetic resonance imaging features and built using UK Biobank participants with no prevalent IHD (n = 35,237). Results: Prevalent IHD was linked to significantly accelerated brain aging (P < 0.001) that was not fully mediated by microvascular injury. Brain aging (positive brain-age delta) was associated with increased risk of dementia (odds ratio: 1.13 [95% CI: 0.04-1.22]; P = 0.002), vascular risk factors (such as diabetes), and high adiposity. In the absence of IHD, brain aging was also associated with cardiovascular structural and functional changes typically observed in aging hearts. However, such alterations were not linked with risk of dementia. Conclusions: Prevalent IHD and coexisting vascular risk factors are associated with accelerated brain aging and risk of dementia. Positive brain-age delta representing accelerated brain aging may serve as an effective communication tool to show the impact of modifiable risk factors and disease supporting preventative strategies.

Original publication




Journal article


JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging

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