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Atherosclerosis. 2011 Nov;219(1):330-3. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2011.07.013. Epub 2011 Jul 20.

Carotid atherosclerosis and cognitive function in midlife: the Beaver Dam Offspring Study.

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1
University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1036 WARF, 610 Walnut Street, Madison, WI 53726, USA. wzhong@wisc.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Atherosclerosis may be associated with cognitive function; however the studies are few, especially among midlife adults.

METHODS:

Participants in the beaver dam offspring study who had cognitive test data and gradable carotid artery ultrasound scans were included (n=2794, mean age: 49 years). Atherosclerosis was measured by carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) and the presence of plaque. Cognitive function was measured by the trail making test (TMT), grooved pegboard test (GPT) and mini-mental state examination (MMSE). Generalized cognitive function was defined by a summary score calculated from the TMT and GPT. Linear regression was used to evaluate the associations between carotid atherosclerosis and cognitive function tests.

RESULTS:

Larger IMT was associated with lower GPT, MMSE and the summary score adjusting for multiple factors, the coefficients were: 13.8s (p<0.0001), -0.6 (p=0.007), and 0.47 (p=0.01), respectively for 1mm increase in IMT. Plaque scores were significantly associated with TMT-B, GPT, MMSE, and the summary score adjusting for age, sex and education. The associations remained statistically significant after further adjustments except for the association with TMT-B, which was attenuated and no longer significant.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our results show the significant associations between markers of carotid atherosclerosis and cognitive function in a cohort of persons aged 21-84 years. Longitudinal studies are needed to further examine these associations.

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