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Ethn Dis. 2008 Spring;18(2):181-6.

Blood pressure and memory in older African Americans.

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Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 22708, USA.


The rates of high blood pressure among African Americans, as a group, are the highest in the world. The implications for higher average blood pressure include complications for many major chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Less well studied is the effect of blood pressure on the cognitive functioning of African Americans. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of blood pressure on memory measures in a sample of adult African Americans. Analyses were conducted on a sample of 361 African American adults (mean age 61.50 years, standard deviation 9.39 years). We found significant correlations between systolic blood pressure and most cognitive measures but only for one of the measures and diastolic blood pressure. Regressions revealed significant effects for systolic blood pressure on Digit Symbol, Telephone Interview of Cognitive Status, and Immediate Recall on the Wechsler Logical Memory test. These findings suggest that blood pressure is a source of individual variability in cognitive aging among African Americans.

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