Background: Evidence suggests that elevated systolic blood pressure (SBP) and pulse pressure (PP) in midlife is associated with increased risk for cognitive impairment later in life. There is mixed evidence regarding the effects of late life elevated SBP or PP on cognitive function, and limited information on the role of female gender. Methods/Principal Findings: Effects of SBPand PPon cognitive abilities at baseline and over a 9-year period were evaluated in 337 non-demented community-dwelling female participants over age 70 in the Women's Health and Aging Study II using logistic and Cox proportional hazards regression analyses. Participants aged 76-80 years with SBP≥160 mmHg or PP≥84 mmHg showed increased incidence of impairment on Trail Making Test-Part B (TMT, Part B), a measure of executive function, over time when compared to the control group that included participants with normal and pre-hypertensive SBP (<120 and 120-139 mmHg) or participants with low PP (<68 mmHg) (HR = 5.05 [95%CI = 1.42, 18.04], [HR = 5.12 [95%CI = 1.11; 23.62], respectively). Participants aged 70-75 years with PP≥71 mmHg had at least a two-fold higher incidence of impairment on HVLT-I, a measure of verbal learning, over time when compared to participants with low PP (<68 mmHg) (HR = 2.44 [95%CI = 1.11, 5.39]). Conclusions/Significance: Our data suggest that elevated SBP or PP in older non-demented women increases risk for late-life cognitive impairment and that PP could be used when assessing the risk for impairment in cognitive abilities. These results warrant further, larger studies to evaluate possible effects of elevated blood pressure in normal cognitive aging.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)