Carotid Atherosclerosis and a Reduced Likelihood for Lowered Cognitive Performance in a Canadian First Nations Population
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BACKGROUND: We investigated the associations among cardiovascular risk factors, carotid atherosclerosis and cognitive function in a Canadian First Nations population. METHODS: Individuals aged > or = 18 years, without stroke, nonpregnant and with First Nations status were assessed by the Trail Making Test Parts A and B. Results were combined into a Trail Making Test executive function score (TMT-exec). Doppler ultrasonography assessed carotid stenosis and plaque volume. Anthropometric, vascular and metabolic risk factors were assessed by interview, clinical examinations and blood tests. RESULTS: For 190 individuals with TMT-exec scores, the median age of the population was 39 years. Compared to the reference group, individuals with elevated levels of left carotid stenosis (LCS) and total carotid stenosis (TCS) were less likely to demonstrate lowered cognitive performance [LCS, odds ratio (OR): 0.47, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.24-0.96; TCS, OR: 0.40, 95% CI: 0.20-0.80]. No effect was shown for plaque volume. In structural equation modeling, we found that for every 1-unit change in the anthropometric factor in kg/m(2), there was a 0.86-fold decrease in the percent of TCS (p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Individuals with elevated levels of LCS and TCS were less likely to demonstrate lowered performance. There was some suggestion that TCS mediates the effect of anthropometric risk factors on cognitive function.
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