Journal of Undergraduate Research


cardiovascular health, cognitive decline, older adults


Life Sciences


Health Science


Cognitive impairment is a concerning issue among the population of older adults in the United States. This problem is compounded by the fact that science is largely uncertain of how to prevent cognitive decline; however, if we knew that particular modifiable behaviors associated with cardiovascular health were also related to cognitive health, then efforts to prevent cognitive impairment could potentially be developed. There are three principal goals of this project: 1) determine how cardiovascular health evolves in older adults over several years; 2) determine the relationship between cardiovascular health and cognitive decline in older adults; 3) determine how changes in cardiovascular health affect cognitive decline in older adults. During my time as an ORCA grant recipient, I focused on addressing the first goal by developing variables for measuring cardiovascular health using data collected from >5,000 participants of the Cardiovascular Health Study. The specific work I did is described below, with a focus on the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple 7” score, the use of physical activity data in that score, and the use of dietary data in that score.