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Subclinical atherosclerosis and subsequent cognitive function

      Highlights

      • We examined the relationship between subclinical atherosclerosis and later cognition.
      • Differences based on demographic factors and APOE4 status were examined.
      • Cognitive scores trended lower with higher positive atherosclerotic indicators.
      • Atherosclerosis was modestly associated with later cognitive status in middle-age.

      Abstract

      Objective

      To examine the relationship between measures of subclinical atherosclerosis and subsequent cognitive function.

      Method

      Participants from the Dallas Heart Study (DHS), a population-based multiethnic study of cardiovascular disease pathogenesis, were re-examined 8 years later (DHS-2) with the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA); N = 1904, mean age = 42.9, range 8–65. Associations of baseline measures of subclinical atherosclerosis (coronary artery calcium, abdominal aortic plaque, and abdominal aortic wall thickness) with MoCA scores measured at follow-up were examined in the group as a whole and in relation to age and ApoE4 status.

      Results

      A significant linear trend of successively lower MoCA scores with increasing numbers of atherosclerotic indicators was observed (F(3, 1150) = 5.918, p = .001). CAC was weakly correlated with MoCA scores (p = .047) and MoCA scores were significantly different between participants with and without CAC (M = 22.35 vs 23.69, p = 0.038). With the exception of a small association between abdominal AWT and MoCA in subjects over age 50, abdominal AWT and abdominal aortic plaque did not correlate with MoCA total score (p ≥ .052). Cognitive scores and atherosclerosis measures were not impacted by ApoE4 status (p ≥ .455).

      Conclusion

      In this ethnically diverse population-based sample, subclinical atherosclerosis was minimally associated with later cognitive function in middle-aged adults.

      Keywords

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