Objective Hispanics/Latinos have some of the highest prevalence rates for cardiovascular disease risk factors, but stark differences exist by self-reported background. Cardiovascular disease risk factors negatively impact cognition in Hispanics/Latinos; less is known about these relationships by Hispanic/Latino backgrounds. We investigated cognitive associations with cardiovascular disease risk factor burden in a diverse cohort, the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos. Methods Baseline data from this observational study of cardiovascular disease and its antecedents was collected from 2008-2011. We included 7,121 participants 45-74 years old from Central American, Cuban, Dominican, Mexican, Puerto Rican, or South American backgrounds. Dichotomous indicators for hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, obesity, and smoking were evaluated and totaled, with participants grouped by lowest (0-2), middle (3) or highest (4-5) burden. Cognitive testing included the Brief Spanish English Verbal Learning Test, letter fluency, and digit symbol substitution. Results In separate fully-adjusted linear regression models, lower fluency and digit symbol substitution performance were restricted to the highest compared to the lowest burden group; whereas the middle burden group displayed impaired memory performance compared to the lowest burden group (p-values≤0.05). Background interacted with burden for learning and memory performance. That is, the association of burden level (i.e., lowest, middle, or highest) with cognitive performance was modified by background (e.g., Mexicans vs Cuban). Conclusions Hispanics/Latinos with higher levels of cardiovascular disease risk factor burden displayed lower levels of cognitive performance, with learning and memory performance modified by background.
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