Arterial stiffness is an independent risk factor for cognitive impairment in the elderly: A pilot study

Angelo Scuteri, Anna Maria Brancati, Walter Gianni, Antonio Assisi, Massimo Volpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Loss of cognitive function is a common condition in the elderly population. Cognitive impairment is defined as the transitional stage of cognitive decline, between normal aging and early dementia. We tested whether arterial stiffness, evaluated as pulse wave velocity (PWV), is associated with cognitive impairment in older subjects, and whether PWV is increased at a comparable extent in older subjects with cortical or subcortical cerebral lesions when compared with age-matched controls referred for memory deficits. Subjects and methods: Eighty-four subjects (78 ± 5 years, 30 men and 54 women) referred for memory deficit with no history of stroke or atrial fibrillation were studied. Carotid-femoral PWV was determined non-invasively with Complior. The Mini Mental State Examination was assessed as a measure of global cognitive function. The sum of the score on the Activities of Daily Living and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living scales was used as a measure of personal independency. Based upon brain imaging, subjects were classified as referred for memory deficits with normal brain imaging, or control, with subcortical microvascular lesions or with cortical atrophy. Results: PWV, normalized for mean blood pressure, was inversely correlated with the Mini Mental State Examination (r = -0.26, P <0.05), even after controlling for education, prevalent cardiovascular (CV) disease, CV risk factors, and medication use (beta coefficient = -0.28, P <0.01). PWV was also inversely correlated with personal independency (r = -0.36, P <0.01; beta coefficient = -0.38, P <0.01, after multiple adjustment). In the presence of no significant differences in age, education, traditional CV risk factor levels, carotid plaques, or prevalence of CV disease, higher PWV values were more frequent in subjects with cortical atrophy than in patients with subcortical microvascular lesions or controls (P <0.05). Conclusions: PWV was associated with cognitive impairment and with a greater personal dependency, independently of major modifiable CV risk factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1211-1216
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Hypertension
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2005


  • Aging
  • Arterial stiffness
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Dependency
  • Pulse wave velocity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology


Dive into the research topics of 'Arterial stiffness is an independent risk factor for cognitive impairment in the elderly: A pilot study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this