Association of Vascular Risk Factors with Cognition in a Multiethnic Sample

Published in: Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, v. 70, no. 4, July 2015, p. 532-544

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2014

by Brooke C. Schneider, Alden L. Gross, Katherine J. Bangen, Jeannine Skinner, Andreana Benitez, M. Maria Glymour, Bonnie C. Sachs, Regina A. Shih, Shannon Sisco, Jennifer J. Manly, José A. Luchsinger

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OBJECTIVES: To examine the relationship between cardiovascular risk factors (CVRFs) and cognitive performance in a multiethnic sample of older adults. METHOD: We used longitudinal data from the Washington Heights-Inwood Columbia Aging Project. A composite score including smoking, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and central obesity represented CVRFs. Multiple group parallel process multivariate random effects regression models were used to model cognitive functioning and examine the contribution of CVRFs to baseline performance and change in general cognitive processing, memory, and executive functioning. RESULTS: Presence of each CVRF was associated with a 0.1 SD lower score in general cognitive processing, memory, and executive functioning in black and Hispanic participants relative to whites. Baseline CVRFs were associated with poorer baseline cognitive performances among black women and Hispanic men. CVRF increase was related to baseline cognitive performance only among Hispanics. CVRFs were not related to cognitive decline. After adjustment for medications, CVRFs were not associated with cognition in Hispanic participants. DISCUSSION: CVRFs are associated with poorer cognitive functioning, but not cognitive decline, among minority older adults. These relationships vary by gender and medication use. Consideration of unique racial, ethnic, and cultural factors is needed when examining relationships between CVRFs and cognition.

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