Particularly in old age, orthostatic hypotension has been related to worse cognitive functioning, possibly caused by reduced cerebral blood flow (CBF). This study investigates whether orthostatic hypotension in older people is associated with cognitive dysfunction and, if so, whether this association is mediated by cerebral vascular damage and/or decreased CBF.
Four hundred and twenty participants of the Discontinuation of ANtihypertensive Treatment in Elderly People (DANTE) Study Leiden (mean age 81 years, all using antihypertensive medication and with mild cognitive deficits), and MRI data from 214 participants of the nested DANTE MRI sub-study. Orthostatic hypotension was defined as either a SBP decrease at least 20 mmHg and/or a DBP decrease of at least 10 mmHg within 3 min of standing up. Cognitive functioning was assessed using a battery of six cognitive tests covering global cognition, memory function, executive function and psychomotor speed. Cerebral vascular damage and CBF were assessed using MRI.
The prevalence of orthostatic hypotension was 47% (n = 199). Compared with the group without orthostatic hypotension, participants with orthostatic hypotension showed no differences in any of the cognitive functions, features of cerebral small vessel disease, microstructural integrity or CBF.
In this population of older persons, the presence of orthostatic hypotension was not associated with decreased cognition. In addition, no differences were found in the supposedly underlying cerebral vascular mechanisms.