Higher variability in visit-to-visit blood pressure readings, independent of average blood pressure, could be related to impaired cognitive function in old age in those already at high risk of cardiovascular disease, suggests a paper published on bmj.com.
There is increasing evidence that vascular factors contribute in development and progression of dementia. This is of special interest as cardiovascular factors may be amendable and thus potential targets to reduce cognitive decline and the incidence of dementia. Visit-to-visit blood pressure variability has been linked to cerebrovascular damage (relating to the brain and its blood vessels). It has also been shown that this variability can increase the risk of stroke.
It has been suggested that higher blood pressure variability might potentially lead to cognitive impairment through changes in the brain structures.
Researchers from the Leiden University Medical Center (Netherlands), University College Cork (Ireland) and the Glasgow University (UK) therefore investigated the association of visit-to-visit blood pressure variability (independent of average blood pressure) with cognitive function in older subjects at high risk of cardiovascular disease.
Both systolic (peak pressure) and diastolic (minimum pressure) blood pressures were measured every three months in the same clinical setting. The variability between these measurements were calculated and used in the analyses.
The study used data on cognitive function where the following was tested: selective attention and reaction time; general cognitive speed; immediate and delayed memory performance.
Results showed that visit-to-visit blood pressure variability was associated with worse performance on all cognitive tests. The results were consistent after adjusting for cardiovascular disease and other risk factors.
Association of visit-to-visit variability in blood pressure with cognitive function in old age: prospective cohort study
Sabayan B*, Wijsman LW, Foster-Dingley JC, Stott DJ, Ford J, Buckley BM, Sattar N, Jukema JW, Osch MJP van, Grond J van der, Buchem MA van, Westendorp RGJ, Craen AJM de, Mooijaart SP
*Behnam Sabayan succesfully completed the master Vitality and Ageing at Leyden Academy in 2011.