A decade of aging in healthy older adults: longitudinal findings on cerebrovascular and cognitive health

Ralf W. J. Weijs, Madelijn H. Oudegeest-Sander, Janneke I. A. Vloet, Maria T. E. Hopman, Jurgen A. H. R. Claassen, Dick H. J. Thijssen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Research suggests an association between cerebrovascular health and cognitive decline, but previous work is limited by its cross-sectional nature or short (< 1–2 years) follow-up. Our aim was to examine, across 10 years of follow-up in healthy older adults, changes in cerebrovascular health and their relationship with subjective memory complaints as an early marker of cognitive decline. Between 2008 and 2010, twenty-eight healthy older adults (69 ± 4 years) underwent baseline blood pressure and transcranial Doppler measurements to assess middle cerebral artery blood velocity (MCAv), cerebrovascular resistance index (CVRi), and measures of cerebral autoregulation (CA). After 9–12 years of follow-up, these measurements were repeated, and presence of memory complaints was evaluated. Linear mixed-model analyses explored effects of aging on cerebrovascular parameters and whether memory complaints were associated with cerebrovascular changes. Across a median follow-up of 10.9 years, no changes in MCAv, CVRi, or CA were found. At baseline, these parameters were not different between subjects with (n = 15) versus without (n = 13) memory complaints. During follow-up, subjects with memory complaints showed larger decreases in MCAv (− 10% versus + 9%, P = 0.041) and increases in CVRi (+ 26% versus − 9%, P = 0.029) compared to other peers without memory complaints, but no distinct changes in CA parameters (P > 0.05). Although a decade of aging does not lead to deterioration in cerebral blood flow or autoregulation, our findings suggest that reductions in cerebral blood flow and increases in cerebrovascular resistance are associated with early subjective cognitive decline.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2023
Externally publishedYes

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