Arterial stiffness as an independent predictor of longitudinal changes in cognitive function in the older individual

Angelo Scuteri, Manfredi Tesauro, Sergio Appolloni, Francesca Preziosi, Anna Maria Brancati, Massimo Volpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: Cognitive decline significantly contributes to disability in older individuals. We previously demonstrated cross-sectionally that arterial stiffness [pulse wave velocity (PWV)] was associated with memory loss independently of traditional cardiovascular risk factors and of neuroimaging findings in older individuals without prior stroke. The present study aimed to evaluate PWV as a predictor of longitudinal changes in cognitive function in older individuals reporting memory problems. PARTICIPANTS AND METHODS: We studied 102 older individuals (mean age 79 ± 6 years; 31 men, 71 women) reporting memory problems. PWV was measured noninvasively by Complior. Traditional cardiovascular risk factor levels were measured. Global cognitive function was measured by the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) (maximum score = 30) at baseline and at follow-up visit. Cerebral computed tomography evaluated the presence of microvascular damage or cortical atrophy. Individuals with prior stroke or atrial fibrillation were excluded. RESULTS: The baseline MMSE was 22.9 ± 5.5; 61% were hypertensive, 26.8% diabetic, 9.4% smokers, 10.5% taking statins, and 21.1% taking nitrates. The average PWV was 13.5 ± 2.2 m/s. After a median follow-up of 12 months, the average per-year decline in MMSE was 2.9 points or 12.1%. Multiple regression models showed that PWV independently predicted cognitive decline (model R = 0.50). PWV was the single strongest predictor of cognitive decline, explaining 15.2% of the total variance (each 1 m/s increase in PWV was associated with an average 0.74 per-year decrease in MMSE score, P <0.001). CONCLUSION: In older individuals, arterial stiffness (PWV) is a strong predictor of loss in cognitive function, independent of age, sex, education, and traditional cardiovascular risk factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1035-1040
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Hypertension
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2007


  • Aging
  • Arterial stiffness
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Longitudinal study
  • Pulse wave velocity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology

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