Netherlands Heart Journal

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 55–57

The heart-brain connection: mechanistic insights and models

Special Article

DOI: 10.1007/s12471-012-0348-9

Cite this article as:
Ritz, K., van Buchem, M.A. & Daemen, M.J. Neth Heart J (2013) 21: 55. doi:10.1007/s12471-012-0348-9


While both cardiac dysfunction and progressive loss of cognitive function are prominent features of an ageing population, surprisingly few studies have addressed the link between the function of the heart and brain. Recent literature indicates that autoregulation of cerebral flow is not able to protect the brain from hypoperfusion when cardiac output is reduced or atherosclerosis is prominent. This suggests a close link between cardiac function and large vessel atherosclerosis on the one hand and brain perfusion and cognitive functioning on the other. Mechanistically, the presence of vascular pathology leads to chronic cerebral hypoperfusion, blood brain barrier breakdown and inflammation that most likely precede neuronal death and neurodegeneration. Animal models to study the effects of chronic cerebral hypoperfusion are available, but they have not yet been combined with cardiovascular models.


Cerebral hypoperfusion Cardiovascular dysfunction Cognitive decline Neurodegeneration Heart and brain 

Copyright information

© Springer Media / Bohn Stafleu van Loghum 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pathology, L2-110Academic Medical CenterAmsterdamthe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyLeiden University Medical CenterLeidenthe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Pathology, M2-206Academic Medical CenterAmsterdamthe Netherlands

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