I am
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

The path to prevention: targeting vascular risk factors to prevent cognitive impairment

Professor Amy Brodtmann, Institution: Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health

2020 Future Leader Fellowship

Years funded: 2021-2024


More than half the total dementia burden in Australians is due to the combined effect of vascular risk factors. Yet despite the greatest risk of dementia being in vascular populations, this population is ignored or excluded from most current dementia studies. Those at highest risk of late-life dementia include people with stroke and atrial fibrillation (AF), and people who are inactive. Indeed, physical inactivity may be the individual risk factor contributing most to total dementia burden. While it is known that exercise is one of the only known neuroprotective behaviours, we don’t fully understand the biology to optimise its effects.

My research findings have challenged orthodoxies, offering a paradigm shift in understanding neurodegeneration by positing that vascular risk factors are the major determinants of late-life dementia. The proposed projects for my Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellowship Level 2 application build on this research. In my research program over the next 4 years, I want to focus on identifying modifiable mechanisms with a view to prevention of cognitive impairment. Given the strong association between stroke and atrial fibrillation (AF), I wish to understand the relationship between AF and cognitive decline in elderly Australians (ASPREE-AF study). My work has shown that people following stroke have accelerated rates of brain shrinkage, or atrophy. I want to examine whether exercise stops your brain from shrinking after stroke with the Post-Ischaemic Stroke Cardiovascular Exercise Study (PISCES).

I can foresee at time when we can assign a dementia risk profile to a patient in clinic – whether they be seen for heart failure or diabetes management or stroke – and prescribe a multi-modal regimen of drug and lifestyle therapies to reduce dementia risk. This vision sits squarely within the Heart Foundation mission to foster healthy brain aging and develop interventions to reduce dementia risk.

You might also be interested in

Research Directory

Research Directory

Altering the rehabilitation environment to improve stroke survivor activity (AREISSA)

Altering the rehabilitation environment to improve stroke survivor activity (AREISSA)

Assistant Professor Neil Spratt, Institution: The University of Newcastle...

Constructing Aboriginal health: a review of cardiovascular research, 1933-2014

Constructing Aboriginal health: a review of cardiovascular research, 1933-2014

Ms Joanne Luke, Institution: University of Melbourne...

Exercise and brain volume loss after stroke

Exercise and brain volume loss after stroke

Professor Amy Brodtmann, Institution: Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health...

Lipid disorders in patients at high cardiovascular disease risk

Lipid disorders in patients at high cardiovascular disease risk

Dr Esther Ooi, Institution: University of Western Australia...

Optimizing stroke therapy - advanced brain imaging and rapid restoration of blood flow to the brain

Optimizing stroke therapy - advanced brain imaging and rapid restoration of blood flow to the brain

Professor Bruce Campbell, Institution: University of Melbourne...

Promoting active, healthy lifestyles among women at key life stages

Promoting active, healthy lifestyles among women at key life stages

Associate Professor Verity Cleland, Institution: University of Tasmania...

Reducing population salt consumption in Victoria

Reducing population salt consumption in Victoria

Reducing population salt consumption in Victoria

Professor Bruce Neal, Institution: University of New South Wales...

Starting early – Increasing young children’s physical activity

Starting early – Increasing young children’s physical activity

Associate Professor Hayley Christian, Institution: University of Western Australia...

Strategies to optimise cardio-metabolic health

Strategies to optimise cardio-metabolic health

Associate Professor Melinda Carrington, Institution: Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute...

Give with Heart Day

Give with Heart Day

Give with Heart Day

Donate to Give with Heart Day by September 15 and every dollar you donate will be doubled*...

Give with Heart Day

Give with Heart Day

Give with Heart Day

Landmarks around Australia to turn red in support of the Heart Foundation’s Give with Heart Day...

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

The fundraising race where you set the pace. Run, jog or walk MyMarathon at your own pace during October....

Research Directory

Research Directory

Tenecteplase versus alteplase for stroke thrombolysis evaluation trial

Tenecteplase versus alteplase for stroke thrombolysis evaluation trial

Professor Mark Parsons, Institution: University of Melbourne...

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Lipid management clinical information and resources

Lipid management clinical information and resources

Lipid management resources for health professionals...

Q&A with Dr Dean Picone

Q&A with Dr Dean Picone

Q&A with Dr Dean Picone

Managing your funding

Managing your funding

Managing your funding

Resources to help manage your grant, scholarship or fellowship....

Support after a heart attack

Support after a heart attack

Support after a heart attack

Many different thoughts may go through your head after a heart attack and you may be presented with complicated medical info. Know where to get support. ...

Meatloaf

Meatloaf

40-50 minutes
Serves 6

What is cardiac rehab?

What is cardiac rehab?

What is cardiac rehab?

Cardiac rehab is proven to keep you out of hospital and reduce your risk of death from heart conditions....

Get your family moving

Get your family moving

Get your family moving

Get your kids active and set them up for healthier habits into adulthood....

For professionals: Heart failure tools and resources

For professionals: Heart failure tools and resources

Resources for healthcare professionals on the management of patients with heart failure ...

Meditation helped Grant recover from his heart attack

Meditation helped Grant recover from his heart attack

Meditation helped Grant recover from his heart attack

Thankfully for Grant Byrne, a lifelong Led Zeppelin fan, some quick thinking helped him avoid a stairway to heaven. Read Grant’s heart attack story now. ...

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Join our community of fundraisers who are committed to taking action to fight heart disease....

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Join the fight against heart disease....

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

Getting the right balance of fats in your diet can improve your heart health....

Snack recipes

Snack recipes

Snack recipes

Search for healthy snack ideas...

Celebrate the life of someone you love by giving to the Heart Foundation in their memory

Celebrate the life of someone you love by giving to the Heart Foundation in their memory

Celebrate the life of someone you love by giving to the Heart Foundation in their memory

Acute coronary syndromes (ACS) clinical resources

Acute coronary syndromes (ACS) clinical resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

Hazelnut maple granola clusters

Hazelnut maple granola clusters

Hazelnut maple granola clusters

30 minutes
Serves Makes 635g. Serves 8 (80g serve – about ¾ cup)

Mighty mango smoothie

Mighty mango smoothie

Mighty mango smoothie

For Professionals: Coronary artery calcium scoring

For Professionals: Coronary artery calcium scoring

The National Heart Foundation of Australia Position Statement: Coronary artery calcium scoring for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in Australia.¹...

Heart stories

Heart stories

Heart stories

Stories of hope from Australian men and women fighting heart disease....

Research connect newsletter

Research connect newsletter

Research connect newsletter

The Research Connect Newsletter provides monthly updates on the Heart Foundation Research Program....

Blood cholesterol

Blood cholesterol

Blood cholesterol

Keeping your blood cholesterol at a healthy level can help you reduce your risk of heart disease and other serious conditions. ...

Workplace giving program

Workplace giving program

Workplace giving program

Workplace giving is a simple and tax effective way for employees to make regular donations to a cause they care about. ...

Heart attack recovery – your first month

Heart attack recovery – your first month

Heart attack recovery – your first month

Explore the Heart Foundation’s guide on what to expect in the first month after your heart attack. ...

Salad recipes

Salad recipes

Salad recipes

Search through our tasty salad recipes...