Objective: To explore whether hypertension is associated with the risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), an intermediate stage of dementia, because there are conflicting data relating hypertension to the risk of Alzheimer disease.
Design and setting: Prospective community-based cohort study conducted in northern Manhattan. Multivariate proportional hazards regression analyses were used, relating hypertension to incident all-cause MCI, amnestic MCI, and nonamnestic MCI in 918 persons without prevalent MCI at baseline followed up for a mean of 4.7 years.
Results: There were 334 cases of incident MCI, 160 cases of amnestic MCI, and 174 cases of nonamnestic MCI during 4337 person-years of follow-up. Hypertension was associated with an increased risk of all-cause MCI (hazard ratio, 1.40; 95% confidence interval, 1.06-1.77; P = .02) and nonamnestic MCI (hazard ratio, 1.70; 95% confidence interval, 1.13-2.42; P = .009) after adjusting for age and sex. Both associations were slightly attenuated in models additionally adjusting for stroke and other vascular risk factors. There was no association between hypertension and the risk of amnestic MCI (hazard ratio, 1.10; 95% confidence interval, 0.79-1.63; P = .49). Consistent with this association, hypertension was related with the slope of change in an executive ability score, but not with memory or language score. There was no effect modification of the association between hypertension and MCI by APOEepsilon4 genotype or use of antihypertensive medication.
Conclusions: A history of hypertension is related to a higher risk of MCI. The association seems to be stronger with the nonamnestic than the amnestic type of MCI in the elderly. These findings suggest that prevention and treatment of hypertension may have an important impact in lowering the risk of cognitive impairment.