There is evidence for a beneficial effect of aerobic exercise on cognition, but underlying mechanisms are unclear. In this study, we test the hypothesis that aerobic exercise increases cerebral blood flow (CBF) in patients with vascular cognitive impairment (VCI). This study is a multicenter single-blind randomized controlled trial among 80 patients with VCI. Most important inclusion criteria are a diagnosis of VCI with Mini-Mental State Examination ≥22 and Clinical Dementia Rating ≤0.5. Participants are randomized into an aerobic exercise group or a control group. The aerobic exercise program aims to improve cardiorespiratory fitness and takes 14 weeks, with a frequency of three times a week. Participants are provided with a bicycle ergometer at home. The control group receives two information meetings. Primary outcome measure is change in CBF. We expect this study to provide insight into the potential mechanism by which aerobic exercise improves hemodynamic status.
Keywords: Arterial spin labeling; Cerebral blood flow; Cognition; Exercise; Randomized clinical trial; Vascular cognitive impairment.