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Psychol Aging. 2009 Mar;24(1):154-62. doi: 10.1037/a0014283.

Aging, vascular risk, and cognition: blood glucose, pulse pressure, and cognitive performance in healthy adults.

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Institute of Gerontology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202, USA.


Advanced age is associated with decline in many areas of cognition as well as increased frequency of vascular disease. Well-described risk factors for vascular disease, such as diabetes and arterial hypertension, have been linked to cognitive deficits beyond those associated with aging. To examine whether vascular health indices such as fasting blood glucose levels and arterial pulse pressure can predict subtle deficits in age-sensitive abilities, the authors studied 104 healthy adults (ages 18 to 78) without diagnoses of diabetes or hypertension. Whereas results revealed a classic pattern of age-related differences in cognition, preprandial blood glucose level and pulse pressure independently and differentially affected cognitive performance. High-normal blood glucose levels were associated with decreased delayed associative memory, reduced accuracy of working memory processing among women, and slower working memory processing among men. Elevated pulse pressure was associated with slower perceptual-motor processing. Results suggest that blood glucose levels and pulse pressure may be sensitive indicators of cognitive status in healthy adults; however, longitudinal research is needed to determine whether such relatively mild elevations in this select group predict age-related cognitive declines.

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