Background Increased aortic stiffness has been associated with cognitive decline and dementia, but the results are inconsistent. This study investigated the longitudinal association of aortic stiffness and age with decreased cognitive performance in 3 cognitive tests. Methods and Results This study included 6927 participants, with a mean age of 58.8 years at baseline (2008-2010), who participated in the second wave (2012-2014) of the ELSA-Brasil (Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health) (interval between visits ranging from 2-6 years). Cognitive performance was evaluated by Memory, Phonemic, and Semantic Verbal Fluency and Trail B Tests, applied at both cohort visits. Associations with the carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity and age at baseline were investigated using linear models with mixed effects after adjusting for confounders. After all the adjustments, including for systolic blood pressure, the interaction term carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity×time proved to be statistically significant for Memory and Verbal Fluency Tests, indicating that the higher carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity at baseline was associated with a faster decline in cognitive performance in these tests between waves. The interaction term age×time was statistically significant for all cognitive tests, suggesting that increasing age at baseline was also associated with a faster decline in cognitive performance between waves. Conclusions In this relatively young cohort, and after a relatively short interval, an increased aortic stiffness at baseline was associated with a sharper decline in cognitive performances in memory and verbal fluency, regardless of systolic blood pressure levels. This study also showed that the decline in cognitive performance was faster among older individuals than among younger ones at baseline.
Keywords: aging; aortic stiffness; blood pressure; cognition; pulse wave velocity.