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Prev Med. 2002 Sep;35(3):258-63.

The relationship between temporal changes in blood pressure and changes in cognitive function: atherosclerosis risk in communities (ARIC) study.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, School of Hygiene and Public Health, The Johns Hoipkins University, 615 N Wolfe Street, Room W6009, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA. smoraes@jhsph.edu



Although previous epidemiological studies have reported that hypertension is a major risk factor for decline in brain perfusion and atrophy, which are known to be related to cognitive decline, the impact of temporal changes in blood pressure on age-related cognitive declines has not been assessed.


The present study evaluates changes in blood pressure and cognitive decline over a 6-year period in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. This report is based on 8,058 men and women aged 48-67 years examined in the second (1990-92), and fourth (1996-98) ARIC cohort visits. Changes between these visits were measured in hypertension status and three cognitive function tests: Delayed Word Recall (DWR), the Digit Symbol Subtest of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised (DSS/WAIS-R), and the Word Fluency (WF). Adjusted mean differences in cognitive function were compared among five categories of hypertension status by using linear regression modeling.


In the present study, older subjects with uncontrolled hypertension had a significantly larger mean DSS/WAIS-R score decline than normotensive subjects. Although other cognitive declines did not achieve statistical significance, both cross-sectional and change analysis suggested that partially controlled or uncontrolled hypertension is associated with a less favorable cognitive profile, particularly when considering results of the DSS and the WF tests.


The present study results provide some support to the hypothesis that hypertension status changes over 6 years in individuals initially aged 48-67 years are related to cognitive changes.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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