DOI

10.17077/etd.ssst-1hp1

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Degree

Spring 2019

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 07/29/2021

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Integrative Physiology

First Advisor

Pierce, Gary L.

First Committee Member

Kara Whitaker

Second Committee Member

Moser, David

Abstract

Background: Women are more likely to develop age-related cognitive impairment compared with men of the same age. Pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia (PE), and menopause may contribute to an elevated risk of cognitive decline with aging in women potentially through an adverse impact on vascular function. PE is associated with a heightened risk of hypertension and large elastic artery stiffness (i.e., aortic and carotid arteries) for several years postpartum. Persistent large artery stiffness may be further amplified in women with a history of PE during the menopause transition, which is marked by an accelerated rate of vascular aging. However, large artery stiffness has not been studied extensively in postmenopausal women with a history of PE. Age-related elevations in large artery stiffness are associated with cognitive decline in middle-aged and older adults however, this relation has not been investigated in young women with a history of PE. Moreover, the degree to which elevated large artery stiffness is amplified and associated with reduced cognitive function among postmenopausal women with a history of PE remains unknown. The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which large elastic artery stiffness is associated with reductions in cognitive function in premenopausal and postmenopausal women with a history of PE.

Methods: Large elastic artery stiffness and domains of cognitive function were assessed in young women one year postpartum (n=18, ages 24-41 yrs.) and postmenopausal women (n=19, ages 52-77 yrs.) thirty-five years postpartum. Aortic stiffness was measured via non-invasive applanation tonometry at the carotid and femoral pulse sites and expressed as carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (cfPWV). Carotid artery stiffness was quantified as beta-stiffness index (β-stiffness) was measured via ultrasonography and carotid tonometry. Cognitive tests were administered to assess cognitive function in immediate and delayed recall, working memory, processing speed, and executive function.

Results: Premenopausal women with a history of PE had higher systolic blood pressure (121 ± 4 vs. 101 ± 3 mmHg, p =0.01) one year postpartum but did not differ significantly from controls in cfPWV (6.2 ± 0.4 vs. 5.1 ± 0.2 m/s, p =0.08), β-stiffness (6.1 ± 0.5 vs. 6.1 ± 0.7 U, p =0.97), or cognitive domains of memory, executive function, or processing speed (all p>0.05). Higher systolic blood pressure was associated with lower executive function (r = -0.53, p = 0.05) in young women one year postpartum. Postmenopausal women with a history of PE did not differ from controls in blood pressure, large artery stiffness, or age-adjusted cognitive domains of memory, executive function, or processing speed (all p>0.05). Large artery stiffness was not associated with cognitive function in premenopausal or postmenopausal women.

Conclusions: Young women with a history of PE had elevated systolic pressure one year postpartum, which was associated with reductions in executive function. Large artery stiffness was not elevated or related to cognitive function in postmenopausal women with a history of PE. These preliminary findings suggest that young women with a history of PE are susceptible to reductions in selective cognitive domains related to higher blood pressure, but this effect does not appear to extend into the postmenopausal period.

Keywords

Aortic Stiffness, Carotid Stiffness, Cognition, Menopause, Preeclampsia, Vascular Aging

Pages

viii, 65 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 53-65).

Copyright

Copyright © 2019 Virginia R. Nuckols

Available for download on Thursday, July 29, 2021

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