It is official! You need to keep your heart nice and ticking to keep your vocabulary warm. A research done by Dr Manoux and others in mid 2009 on “History of coronary disease and cognitive performance in midlife: The Whitehall II study”, suggests that there is ‘an association between CHD history and cognitive performance’.
In this study, as part of evaluating the Cognitive Function, Vocabulary was assessed using the Mill Hill Vocabulary Test, used in its multiple format. The Mill Hill test is a vocabulary test which was devised by JC Raven in the fifties to determine the level of verbal information a person has acquired as a result of intellectual activity in the past. Dr Manoux’s test consisted of a list of 33 stimulus words ordered by increasing difficulty and these words had six responses to choose from. Typically, heart disease manifests itself in midlife. To establish correlation between heart disease and cognition, the participants of this study were chosen from British civil servants aged between 35 to 55 years of age. The salient finding of the study was that, that not only was there an association between coronary heart disease (CHD) and lower cognitive scores in men and women, but also increasingly poor cognitive scores with increase in the duration of the CHD. This means that if I have CHD since 10 years as opposed to another person who had it since 5 years, I am more likely to fair poorly in cognitive scores. The takeaway from this study is that you may be a vocab champ now, but if you neglect your heart’s well being, you are likely to forfeit that position in your middle age.