Accounting for over 70% of deaths worldwide, chronic diseases – such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer – are well-known for their long-term, progressive nature. As one of the leading causes of disability, chronic health conditions not only affect the individual’s quality of life but also significantly impact society’s economic burden.
These conditions have traditionally been associated with aging, but we now witness a worrying trend of chronic disease among young adults. The prevalence of chronic diseases among patients under 40 is increasing at an alarming rate, posing a significant challenge for healthcare systems, professionals, and patients.
The systemic implications of a silent epidemic of chronic disease among young adults underscore the importance of understanding the underlying causes, risk factors, and prevention strategies that can enable early detection and effective treatment. Such an approach can not only improve population health outcomes but also help reduce the overall burden on healthcare systems and socio-economic conditions.
Cognitive function and other physiological factors, such as stress levels, have long been associated with physiological health and immunocompetence. Markers of cognitive function, such as reaction time, vigilance, and processing speed, are central to human ability and optimal performance. Variability in these measures is common, as numerous environmental, physical, and mental factors can modify them, including sleep quality, dietary patterns, and other lifestyle choices.
A burgeoning body of scientific evidence suggests that intra-individual variability reaction time and other cognitive performance markers may reflect neurobiological disturbances and, thus, have valuable prognostic significance. Prior research has shown that a heightened variability in reaction time is explicitly associated with greater mortality risk in both younger and older adults. Now, the results of a recent 2022 study reveal a potential connection between cognitive performance and disease susceptibility that could transform our understanding of and approach to the brain-immune system pathway.