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Stroke. 1997 Apr;28(4):777-84.

Cognitive deficits in peripheral vascular disease. A comparison of mild stroke patients and normal control subjects.

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Department of Psychology, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



Evidence indicates that peripheral vascular disease (PVD) and cerebrovascular disease (CVD) coexist and therefore reflect a generalized pattern of atherosclerotic disease in an individual. Given the known deleterious effects of CVD on cognitive function, it was hypothesized that patients with PVD may have impaired cerebral function due to concomitant but clinically unrecognized CVD. The purpose of this study was to determine whether neuropsychological tests would reveal this potential dysfunction.


Neuropsychological test scores (n = 25) were compared across three groups: (1) 29 PVD patients (13 amputees, 16 nonamputees), (2) 29 age- and education-matched patients with atherothrombotic brain infarcts (ie, CVD), and (3) 30 age- and education-matched control subjects.


PVD patients performed significantly worse (P < .002) than control subjects on eight neuropsychological measures of executive function, attention, and visuopatial function. The pattern and, in certain instances, the magnitude of impairment was highly similar between PVD and CVD subjects. Regression analysis revealed that PVD severity and ischemic heart disease were significant negative predictors of test performance. Depression and atherosclerotic risk factors did not explain neuropsychological deficits after the effects of PVD and ischemic heart disease were considered.


PVD patients exhibit neuropsychological deficits that suggest the presence of mild vascular-related brain dysfunction. Patients with multiple manifestations of generalized atherosclerosis (ie, severe PVD, ischemic heart disease) appear to be particularly at risk. Clinicians should be alert to these potential deficits and to the possibility of further vascular-related cognitive decline.

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