MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Rachel H. Mackey, PhD, MPH, FAHA
Assistant Professor of Epidemiology
Graduate School of Public Health
University of Pittsburgh
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: “Hardening,” or stiffening, of the arteries is a risk factor for heart attacks and other cardiovascular disease. Arterial stiffness can be measured by pulse wave velocity (PWV), because the pulse pressure wave travels faster in stiffer arteries. Stiffer arteries transmit increased pulsatile blood flow to the brain and are linked with markers of silent, or subclinical, brain disease, which are related to increased risk of dementia. However, it was not clear whether arterial stiffening would predict risk of dementia, especially in older adults, who often have existing subclinical brain disease. Therefore, a University of Pittsburgh team, led by Chendi Cui, M.S, doctoral student, and Rachel Mackey, PhD, MPH, FAHA, assistant professor of epidemiology at Pitt Public Health, analyzed the association between arterial stiffness and 15-year risk of dementia among 356 older adults, with an average age of 78. Study participants were part of the Cardiovascular Health Study Cognition Study (CHS‐CS), a long‐term study to identify dementia risk factors, led by coauthors Oscar Lopez MD and Lewis Kuller, MD, DrPH. In 1996-2000, study participants had had arterial stiffness measured by pulse wave velocity (PWV), brain imaging by MRI, and had annual follow-up visits for cognitive status.