Study: Cognitive Assessments Can Help Track Patients With Cardiovascular Risk

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(San Francisco CA) — A new study is the first to show that a remote cognitive assessment could help with tracking patients with cardiovascular risk. The assessments evaluated are from Posit Science, developer of the BrainHQ brain exercise app.

Prior studies have established that people with cardiovascular risk factors are at increased risk for cognitive decline and dementia as they age. However, such studies have relied on the gold standard of in-person neuropsychological testing, which, although very beneficial, can be time consuming, expensive, and challenging to arrange during a pandemic.

The Health eBrain Study, published in JMIR Formative Research, enrolled and assessed 239 older adults in a proof-of-concept trial to determine if novel, remotely administered, cognitive assessments could detect the known association between cognitive performance and cardiovascular risk factors. Remote testing could provide a means for identifying people living with cognitive issues associated with their cardiovascular risk factors and could provide a tool for monitoring their brain health in an ongoing manner.

Researchers from the University of California San Francisco, The Neurology Center of Southern California, and Posit Science found that participants with cardiovascular risk factors such as atrial fibrillation and hypertension had significantly worse performance on the memory assessments used in the study.

The researchers noted that the results suggest such “assessments can be used to detect the association between cardiovascular risk factors and cognition function,” and that the “ability to remotely track cognitive health in individuals with modifiable cardiovascular risk factors could represent a unique opportunity to target high-risk individuals for early education, frequent monitoring, and interventions with the hope of preventing accelerated cognitive decline with aging.”

Prior studies of people with chronic heart failure have found using BrainHQ exercises (from which these assessments were derived) can improve health outcomes, mobility, and patient self-care management, as well as reduce health care costs.

“This study represents another step toward a world in which patients can both monitor and improve brain health, with an app you can carry in your pocket,” said Dr. Henry Mahncke, Posit Science CEO. “It also raises the possibility that health systems and providers could identify patients with cardiovascular risk factors based on their remotely administered brain health assessments, as well as monitor the cognitive ability of patients with such risk factors.”

BrainHQ exercises have been shown to be effective in hundreds of studies across varied populations, with benefits that include gains on standard measures of cognition (ie, attention, speed, memory, and decision-making), and quality of life (ie, mood, self-rated health, and health-related quality of life), as well as in real-world activities (eg, gait or balance, driving, listening, and work). BrainHQ is available, without charge to users, through leading Medicare Advantage plans, retirement communities, libraries, medical centers, and employers. Consumers can try BrainHQ for free at

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Original article:

Eastman JA, Kaup AR, Bahorik AL, et al. Remote Assessment of Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Cognition in Middle-Aged and Older Adults: Proof-of-Concept Study. JMIR Form Res 2022;6(2):e30410


doi: 10.2196/30410

PMID: 35107430