Background/aims: Height is associated with a lower risk of stroke and dementia. We tested the hypothesis that higher stature is also associated with better cognitive performance, and examined whether these associations were mediated through the extent of vascular disease.
Methods: A subgroup of patients (mean age at baseline 57.9±6.6 y; 94.6% males) with coronary heart disease who previously participated in a clinical trial (1990 to 1997) was assessed for cognitive function and measures of atherosclerosis 15±3 years later. Cognitive performance was assessed using the Mindstreams computerized battery. Measures of overall battery performance and in specific cognitive domains were obtained, and a score of ≤85 (1 SD below the mean) was defined as cognitive impairment overall and in a specific domain. We compared the risk of cognitive impairment and means of cognitive scores by quartiles of height.
Results: Among 536 patients, 23.2% were cognitively impaired. After controlling for potential risk factors and correcting for multiple comparisons, odds ratios for impairment in the visual-spatial domain decreased with increasing height quartiles (P for trend =0.018), and odds ratio (95% confidence interval) associated with being at the top versus the bottom quartile was 0.40 (0.18-0.88). An increment of 1 SD of height was associated with a higher global score (β=1.98; 95% confidence interval, 0.73-4.49; P=0.004) and with higher executive function, attention, and visual-spatial scores.
Conclusions: Among our sample of coronary heart disease patients, a higher stature is associated with a lower risk of impairment in the visual-spatial function and with better cognitive performance.