Distinct components of cardiovascular health are linked with age-related differences in cognitive abilities
ABSTRACTVascular, cardiovascular and neurovascular ageing processes contribute to cognitive impairment. However, the unique and synergistic contributions of cardiovascular factors to cognitive function remain unclear because they are often condensed into a single composite score or examined in isolation of each other. We hypothesized that vascular risk factors, electrocardiographic features and blood pressure indices reveal multiple latent vascular factors, with independent contributions to age
... differences in cognition. In a population-based deep-phenotyping study of cognition across the lifespan (n=708, age 18-88), path analysis revealed three latent vascular factors dissociating the autonomic nervous system response from two components of blood pressure. These three factors made unique and additive contributions to the variability in crystallized and fluid intelligence. The discrepancy in fluid relative to crystallized intelligence, indicative of cognitive decline, was associated with a latent vascular factor predominantly expressing pulse pressure, suggesting that higher pulse pressure is associated with cognitive decline from expected performance. This association varied with age, such that higher factor scores predicted a greater cognitive discrepancy in older individuals. Controlling pulse pressure may help to preserve cognitive function, particularly in older adults. Our findings highlight the need to better understand the multifactorial nature of vascular aging, its effects on neurocognitive function, and the modifiable risks of cognitive decline.