Background: As a high-flow, low-impedance organ, the brain is sensitive to excessive pressure and flow pulsatility. Increased pulsatility and arterial stiffness are hypothesized to contribute to cerebral microvascular damage linked to cognitive impairment. The association of arterial stiffness with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia in a biethnic population is not well characterized, and the association of pressure amplification with MCI and dementia is relatively unexplored.
Objectives: To quantify the cross-sectional association of arterial stiffness, measured by aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV), and pressure amplification with MCI and dementia in a biethnic population of older adults.
Methods: We included 4,945 adults (2,903 females; 1,069 African Americans; mean age 75 years) from the population-based ARIC-NCS. The Omron VP-1000 plus system was used to measure arterial stiffness (carotid-femoral PWV (cfPWV)) and pressure amplification measures (central systolic blood pressure (cSBP), central pulse pressure (cPP), and pulse pressure amplification (PPA)). A neurologist and neuropsychologist classified MCI and dementia using psychometric assessments, medical history, cerebral magnetic resonance imaging, and physical examinations, with adjudication by a third reviewer. We used multinomial logistic regression to evaluate associations of race-specific 25th percentile cut points of PWV and pressure amplification with normal cognition (reference), MCI and dementia. We stratified by race and adjusted for age, sex, and heart rate, ApoE4, education, smoking status, and study center.
Results: There were 760 Caucasians with MCI and 110 with dementia, and 201 African Americans with MCI and 47 with dementia. Among Caucasians, those with lower PPA had a higher prevalence of dementia, odds ratio (OR)=1.84 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.15, 2.97), comparing participants below the 25th percentile to those above it, and those with higher cSBP had a higher prevalence of MCI, OR=1.33 (95% CI: 1.09, 1.63), comparing participants above the 75th percentile to those below it. Also among Caucasians, those with higher cPP had a higher prevalence of MCI, OR=1.25 (95%CI: 1.01, 1.55), and dementia, OR=1.66 (95% CI: 1.00, 2.73), comparing participants above the 75th percentile to those below it. There were no statistically significant associations with cfPWV, among African Americans, and no evidence for effect modification by hypertension or diabetes.
Conclusion: Arterial stiffness and components of pressure amplification were associated with MCI and dementia in Caucasians but not in African Americans, possibly due to the limited sample size. Longitudinal characterization of the observed associations is warranted to determine whether these measures are independent predictors of MCI and dementia among Caucasian and African American older adults.