Hypertension, White Matter Hyperintensities, and Concurrent Impairments in Mobility, Cognition, and Mood
The Cardiovascular Health Study
Background Our objective was to investigate the association between hypertension and concurrent impairments in mobility, cognition, and mood; the role of brain white matter hyperintensities in mediating this association; and the impact of these impairments on disability and mortality in elderly hypertensive individuals.
Methods and Results Blood pressure, gait speed, digit symbol substitution test, and the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale were measured yearly (1992–1999) on 4700 participants in the Cardiovascular Health Study (age: 74.7, 58% women, 17% blacks, 68% hypertension, 3600 had brain magnetic resonance imaging in 1992–1993, survival data 1992–2005). Using latent profile analysis at baseline, we found that 498 (11%) subjects had concurrent impairments and 3086 (66%) were intact on all 3 measures. Between 1992 and 1999, 651 (21%) became impaired in all 3 domains. Hypertensive individuals were more likely to be impaired at baseline (odds ratio 1.23, 95% confidence interval 1.04 to 1.42, P=0.01) and become impaired during the follow-up (hazard ratio=1.3, 95% confidence interval 1.02 to 1.66, P=0.037). A greater degree of white matter hyperintensities was associated with impairments in the 3 domains (P=0.007) and mediated the association with hypertension (P=0.19 for hypertension after adjusting for white matter hyperintensities in the model, 21% hazard ratio change). Impairments in the 3 domains increased subsequent disability with hypertension (P<0.0001). Hypertension mortality also was increased in those impaired (compared with unimpaired hypertensive individuals: HR=1.10, 95% confidence interval 1.04 to 1.17, P=0.004).
Conclusions Hypertension increases the risk of concurrent impairments in mobility, cognition, and mood, which increases disability and mortality. This association is mediated in part by microvascular brain injury.
- Received August 16, 2010.
- Accepted December 8, 2010.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.