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Neuroepidemiology. 2005;24(1-2):42-50. Epub 2004 Sep 24.

Cardiovascular risk factors and cognitive function in adults 30-59 years of age (NHANES III).

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Department of Family and Community Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77098, USA.


In the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), three measures of cognitive function [Simple Reaction Time Test (SRTT), Symbol Digit Substitution Test (SDST), and Serial Digit Learning Test (SDLT)] were administered to a half-sample of 3,385 adult men and nonpregnant women 30-59 years of age with no history of stroke. We used multiple linear regression analysis to determine whether there was an independent association between performance on each cognitive function measure and defined hypertension (HTN) alone, type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) alone, and coexistent HTN and DM after adjustment for demographic and socioeconomic variables and selected health behaviors. After adjustment for the sociodemographic variables, the combination of HTN + DM, but not HTN alone or DM alone, was significantly associated with worse performance on the SRTT (p = 0.031) and the SDST (p = 0.011). A similar pattern was observed for SDLT performance, but the relationship did not reach statistical significance (p = 0.101). We conclude that HTN in combination with DM is associated with detectable cognitive decrements in persons under age 60.

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