Study Protocol – Insight 46 Cardiovascular: A Sub-study of the MRC National Survey of Health and Development


Dementia cognitive decline vascular cognitive impairment functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) A B S T R A C T The commonest causes of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease and vascular cognitive impairment. Although these conditions have been viewed as distinct entities, there is increasing evidence that neurodegenerative and vascular pathologies interact or overlap to cause cognitive decline, and that at least in some cases individuals at risk of cognitive decline exhibit abnormal cardiovascular physiology long before emergence of disease. However, the mechanisms linking haemodynamic disturbances with cognitive impairment and the various pathologies that cause dementia are poorly understood. A sub-sample of 502 participants from the Medical Research Council National Survey of Health and Development (NSHD) have participated in the first visit of a neuroscience sub-study referred to as Insight 46, where clinical, cognitive, imaging, and lifestyle data have been collected for the purpose of elucidating the pathological changes preceding dementia. This paper outlines the cardiovascular phenotyping performed in the follow-up visit of Insight 46, with the study participants now aged 74. In addition to standard cardiovascular assessments such as blood pressure measurements, echocardiography, and electrocardiography (ECG), functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) has been included to provide an assessment of cerebrovascular function. A detailed description of the fNIRS protocol along with preliminary results from pilot data is presented. The combination of lifestyle data, brain structure/ function, cognitive performance, and cardiovascular health obtained not only from Insight 46, but also from the whole NSHD provides an exciting opportunity to advance our understanding of the cardiovascular mechanisms underlying dementia and cognitive decline, and identify novel targets for intervention. Peer review under responsibility of the Association for Research into Arterial Structure and Physiology Data availability statement: Data used in this publication are available to bona fide researchers upon request to the NSHD Data Sharing Committee via a standard application procedure. Further details can be found at Doi numbers: 10.5522/NSHD/Q101; 10.5522/NSHD/Q102; and 10.5522/NSHD/Q103.

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