Clogged Arteries Associated with Mild Cognitive Impairment In a study of nearly 2,000 adults, researchersåÊat the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center found that a buildup of plaque in the body’s major arteries was associated with mild cognitive impairment. “It is well established that plaque buildup in the arteries is a predictor of heart disease, but the relationship between atherosclerosis and brain health is less clear,” said Christopher D. Maroules, M.D., radiology resident at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “Our findings suggest that atherosclerosis not only affects the heart but also brain health.” Atherosclerosis is a condition in which fat, cholesterol and other substances collect in the arteries, forming a substance called plaque that can build up, limiting blood flow. It can occur in any artery of the body, including the carotid, which supplies blood to the brain, coronary arteries and the aorta, which carries oxygenated blood from the heart through the abdomen to the rest of body. In the study, researchers analyzed the test results of 1,903 participants (mean age, 44 years) in the Dallas Heart Study, a multi-ethnic population-based study of adults from Dallas County, Texas. The participants included both men and women who had no symptoms of cardiovascular disease. After adjusting for traditional risk factors for atherosclerosisÛÓincluding age, ethnicity, male sex, diabetes, hypertension, smoking and body mass indexÛÓthey found independent relationships between atherosclerosis in all three vascular areas of the body and cognitive health. “These results underscore the importance of identifying atherosclerosis in its early stages, not just to help preserve heart function, but also to preserve cognition and brain health,” Dr. Maroules said.