Vascular health across young adulthood and midlife cerebral autoregulation, gait, and cognition


Introduction: To test the association of vascular health (VH) across young adulthood with midlife dynamic cerebral autoregulation (dCA), gait, and cognition; and to test whether dCA is a modifying factor.

Methods: We studied 196 participants from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults cohort who were followed over 30 years. VH was assessed at each visit according to American Heart Association recommendations. At year 30, dCA was measured using transcranial Doppler ultrasound and several gait and cognitive domains were assessed.

Results: Worse VH from baseline through year 7, but not at year 30, was associated with less efficient dCA (all P < .05). Worse VH at all visits was associated with slower gait speed, and at year 7 with worse executive and global cognition (all P < .05). The association of baseline VH and midlife gait, but not cognition, was moderated by dCA (interaction P < .05).

Conclusions: VH as early as young adulthood may influence midlife brain health, and dCA may modify this relationship.

Keywords: cerebral autoregulation; cognitive function; gait; midlife; vascular risk factors.