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Neuropsychological Sequelae of Coronary Heart Disease in Women: A Systematic Review
- This systematic review reveals that women are still underrepresented in cardiovascular research.
- This systematic review emphasizes inconsistencies in how researchers operationalize the definition of coronary heart disease, which could explain the varied results in the literature.
- This systematic review shows the wide range of neuropsychological tests being used to examine the relationship between cognitive function and coronary heart disease, which could also contribute to the varied results in the literature.
- This systematic review finds evidence that supports the heart-brain disease hypothesis in women.
Heart disease, such as coronary heart disease (CHD), is the leading cause of death among aging women. However, over the past years, the mortality rate has declined, resulting in an increased number of CHD survivors. In this context, research has uncovered relationships between cardiovascular disease (CVD) and the development of neurodegenerative diseases, suggesting that CHD can act as a precursor. Despite heart disease affecting both sexes, CVD research has significantly neglected women. Therefore, we conducted the first systematic review of neuropsychological sequelae of CHD in women to gain a clear portrait of the current knowledge of the association of CHD on women’s neuropsychological status. We found that studies continue to include an insufficient number of women in their research. Our work also uncovered that there is variability in the definition of CHD by researchers (i.e., operationalization of the variable), which could explain inconsistencies across studies. Overall, we found evidence that supports the heart-brain disease hypothesis. To conclude, we provide several guidelines for future research involving the impact of CHD in women.