Vascular factors predict rate of progression in Alzheimer disease

Neurology. 2007 Nov 6;69(19):1850-8. doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000279520.59792.fe.


Background: While there is considerable epidemiologic evidence that cardiovascular risk factors increase risk of incident Alzheimer disease (AD), few studies have examined their effect on progression after an established AD diagnosis.

Objective: To examine the effect of vascular factors, and potential age modification, on rate of progression in a longitudinal study of incident dementia.

Methods: A total of 135 individuals with incident AD, identified in a population-based sample of elderly persons in Cache County, UT, were followed with in-home visits for a mean of 3.0 years (range: 0.8 to 9.5) and 2.1 follow-up visits (range: 1 to 5). The Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) Scale and Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) were administered at each visit. Baseline vascular factors were determined by interview and physical examination. Generalized least-squares random-effects regression was performed with CDR Sum of Boxes (CDR-Sum) or MMSE as the outcome, and vascular index or individual vascular factors as independent variables.

Results: Atrial fibrillation, systolic hypertension, and angina were associated with more rapid decline on both the CDR-Sum and MMSE, while history of coronary artery bypass graft surgery, diabetes, and antihypertensive medications were associated with a slower rate of decline. There was an age interaction such that systolic hypertension, angina, and myocardial infarction were associated with greater decline with increasing baseline age.

Conclusion: Atrial fibrillation, hypertension, and angina were associated with a greater rate of decline and may represent modifiable risk factors for secondary prevention in Alzheimer disease. The attenuated decline for diabetes and coronary artery bypass graft surgery may be due to selective survival. Some of these effects appear to vary with age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology*
  • Angina Pectoris / epidemiology
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Atrial Fibrillation / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Coronary Artery Bypass / statistics & numerical data
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Survival Rate
  • Utah / epidemiology


  • Antihypertensive Agents