Purpose of review: In this review, we summarise the evidence on the association between cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cognitive impairment and explore the role of the nitric oxide (NO) pathway as a causal mechanism.
Recent findings: Evidence from epidemiological studies suggests that the presence of CVD and its risk factors in midlife is associated with an increased risk of later life cognitive impairment and dementia. It is unclear what is driving this association but risk may be conveyed via an increase in neurodegeneration (e.g. amyloid deposition), vascular changes (e.g. small vessel disease) and mechanistically due to increased levels of oxidative stress and inflammation as well as changes in NO bioavailability. CVDs and dementia are major challenges to global health worldwide. The NO pathway may be a promising biological candidate for future studies focused on reducing not only CVD but also risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; Cognitive impairment; Dementia; Endothelial function; Nitric oxide.