Adapting a lifestyle physical activity intervention to prevent memory loss in older women with cardiovascular disease

Research Team

Shannon Halloway, PhD, RN (PI) Rush CON

JoEllen Wilbur, PhD, APN, FAAN (co-I) Rush CON

Arlene M. Miller, PhD, RN, FAAN (co-I) Rush CON

Lynne T. Braun, PhD, CNP, FAHA, FAANP, FPCNA, FAAN (co-I) Rush CON

Award Period

02/01/18 – 08/31/19

Funding Source

Rush College of Nursing Faculty Pilot Grant


The long-term goal of this program of research is to develop biobehavioral interventions to address cognitive dysfunction in older women with cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD is a leading risk factor for cognitive dysfunction and the development of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Physical activity (PA) interventions have shown promise in slowing memory loss, a distressing type of cognitive dysfunction associated with CVD. However, no existing PA interventions target memory in older women with CVD, despite their low rates of PA and risk for memory loss. Existing PA interventions focus on structured exercise, without a lifestyle approach. The Women’s Lifestyle Physical Activity (WLPA) program is an evidence-based intervention originally developed for mid-life women. WLPA is currently used in our pilot study with older women with CVD; however, it does not address their specific risks and needs, including brain health. In addition, participant feedback indicates that intervention videos shown at group visits require updating to feature older women with CVD.

The purpose of the proposed study is to redesign WLPA utilizing stakeholder input (patient focus groups, healthcare expert advisory panel). Specifically, we will film intervention videos to feature older women with CVD, and redesign the participant PA handbook and intervention manual (e.g., group visit curriculum) to highlight content specific to CVD and brain health. We propose an iterative process with patient focus groups and a healthcare expert advisory panel in order to: (a) identify lifestyle PA barriers/facilitators focusing on needs of women with CVD, (b) generate CVD-specific modifications, and (c) refine and finalize materials. Upon completion of the proposed study, the redesigned WLPA program will be ready to be tested in a randomized trial. The proposed study addresses a major public health issue especially problematic in older women due to higher prevalence and severity of dementia, with more rapid declines.