Imaging Reveals Signs of Hypertension-Induced Cognitive Impairment

Patients with hypertension had significantly worse performance on cognitive assessments.
Patients with hypertension had significantly worse performance on cognitive assessments.

(HealthDay News) -- Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and cognitive assessment (CA) can identify predictive signs of hypertension-induced vascular cognitive impairment (VCI), according to a study presented at the American Heart Association's Council on Hypertension 2015 Scientific Sessions, held from Sept. 16 to 19 in Washington, D.C.

Lorenzo Carnevale, from IRCCS Neuromed in Italy, and colleagues used DTI and CA to identify a regional pattern of fractional anisotropy (FA) changes that could predict for VCI in patients with hypertension. Fifteen patients with hypertension and 15 normotensive controls underwent DTI and CA.

The researchers found that patients with hypertension had significantly elevated systolic and diastolic blood pressure, significant left ventricular hypertrophic remodeling, and a significant moderate increase in albuminuria. Patients with hypertension had significantly worse performance on the Montreal-Cognitive Assessment and the Stroop Test. None of the patients had abnormal signal intensity on T1/T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging. However, hypertensive patients had lower FA in projection fibers related to impairment for nonverbal materials, association fibers involved in executive function and emotional regulation, and limbic system fibers involved in attention tasks.

"DTI provides a way to evaluate pre-symptomatic brain damage in people with high blood pressure in order to identify possible therapies to help control brain damage and reduce the eventual development of dementia," one of the co-authors said in a statement.

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