Background and purpose: Chronic axonal polyneuropathy is a common, usually multifactorial, disease for which there is no treatment yet available. We investigated the association between cardiovascular health, defined by the health score of the American Heart Association, and chronic axonal polyneuropathy. Methods: Between June 2013 and January 2017, we investigated participants of the Rotterdam Study, a population-based cohort study. Participants were screened for polyneuropathy and categorized as having no, possible, probable or definite polyneuropathy. The cardiovascular health score (range 0–14; higher score reflecting better health) consisted of four health behaviours (diet, physical activity, smoking and body mass index) and three health factors (blood pressure, serum cholesterol and fasting glucose level). Results: We included 1919 participants, of whom 120 (6.3%) had definite polyneuropathy. The median (interquartile range [IQR]) age was 69.0 (58.6–73.7) years and 53.4% were women. A higher cardiovascular health score was associated with a lower prevalence of definite polyneuropathy (per point increase: odds ratio [OR] 0.90, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.84–0.96). Optimal cardiovascular health (score≥10) was strongly associated with a lower prevalence of definite polyneuropathy (OR 0.55, 95% CI 0.32–0.90). An increase in health factors and health behaviour scores separately was associated with a lower prevalence of polyneuropathy (per point increase: OR 0.82, 95% CI 0.71–0.95 and OR 0.86, 95% CI 0.78–0.96, respectively). The association between a lower cardiovascular health score and lower sural nerve amplitude was not significant after correction for covariates (difference 0.07µV, 95% CI −0.02–0.17). Conclusions: Better cardiovascular health, consisting of both modifiable health behaviours and health factors, is associated with a lower prevalence of chronic axonal polyneuropathy.
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© 2021 The Authors. European Journal of Neurology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of European Academy of Neurology.