Aldosterone, Cognitive Function, and Cerebral Hemodynamics in Hypertension and Antihypertensive Therapy


Animal studies suggest that the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system is involved in neurocognitive function and the response to antihypertensive therapy. We investigated the impact of circulating aldosterone and renin activity on cognition and cerebral hemodynamics at baseline and after antihypertensive therapy for 1 year. Participants were older adults (n = 47; mean age = 71 years) enrolled in a clinical trial. Routine antihypertensive medications were replaced with the study regimen to achieve a blood pressure <140/90mm Hg. Executive function, memory, cerebral hemodynamics (blood flow velocity), CO2 vasoreactivity (measured using transcranial Doppler ultrasonography), plasma renin activity, and aldosterone were measured at baseline and at 6 and 12 months after the initiation of treatment. At baseline, higher levels of circulating aldosterone were associated with lower blood flow velocity (β = −0.02; P = 0.03), lower CO2 vasoreactivity (β = −0.11; P = 0.007), and decreased autoregulation abilities (β = −0.09; P = 0.01). Those with higher levels of aldosterone at baseline demonstrated the greatest improvement in executive function (P = 0.014 for the aldosterone effect) and in CO2 vasoreactivity (P = 0.026 for the aldosterone effect) after 12 months of lowering blood pressure (<140/90mm Hg). Plasma renin activity was not associated with any of the measures. Higher levels of aldosterone may be associated with decreased cerebrovascular function in hypertension. Those with higher aldosterone levels may benefit the most from lowering blood pressure. The role of aldosterone in brain health warrants further investigation in a larger trial.

Authors: Ihab Hajjar, Meaghan Hart, Wendy Mack, Lewis A. Lipsitz
Keywords: vasoreactivity, cognition, cognitive function, cognitive impairment, blood flow velocity hypertension
DOI Number: 10.1093/ajh/hpu161      Publication Year: 2015

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