Int J Med Sci 2014; 11(8):771-778. doi:10.7150/ijms.8147 This issue

Research Paper

Impaired Cognitive Executive Dysfunction in Adult Treated Hypertensives with a Confirmed Diagnosis of Poorly Controlled Blood Pressure

Christian Spinelli, Maria Fara De Caro, Gabriella Schirosi, Domenico Mezzapesa, Lorenzo De Benedittis, Concetta Chiapparino, Gabriella Serio, Francesco Federico, Pietro Nazzaro

Department of Medical Basic Sciences, Neurosciences and Sense Organs, Division of Neurology-Stroke Unit, Hypertension, Medical School of Bari - University of Bari, Italy.

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Spinelli C, De Caro MF, Schirosi G, Mezzapesa D, De Benedittis L, Chiapparino C, Serio G, Federico F, Nazzaro P. Impaired Cognitive Executive Dysfunction in Adult Treated Hypertensives with a Confirmed Diagnosis of Poorly Controlled Blood Pressure. Int J Med Sci 2014; 11(8):771-778. doi:10.7150/ijms.8147. Available from

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Background. High blood pressure (BP) poses a major risk for cognitive decline. Aim of the study was to highlight the relationship between cognitive assessment scores and an effective therapeutic BP control.

Methods. By medical visit and ambulatory BP monitoring (ABPM), we studied 302 treated hypertensives, subdivided according to office/daytime BP values into 120 with good (GC) and 98 poor (PC) BP control, 40 with “white coat hypertension” (WCH) and 44 a “masked-hypertension” phenomenon (MH). Patients underwent neuropsychological assessment to evaluate global cognitive scores at the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) and Frontal Assessment Battery (FAB) and attention/executive functions (Delayed Recall, Digit Span Forwards, Digit Span Backwards, Selective Attention, Verbal Fluency, Stroop Test and Clock Drawing). Carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) served as the index of vascular damage.

Results. There were no differences among the groups in terms of gender, age, education, metabolic assessment, clinical history and hypertension treatment. GC presented lower office and ambulatory BP values and IMT. PC performed worse than GC on global executive and attention functions, especially executive functions. In PC, office systolic BP (SBP) was significantly associated to the MMSE and FAB scores and, in particular, to Verbal Fluency, Stroop Errors and Clock Drawing tests. Office diastolic BP (DBP) was associated to Selective attention, nocturnal SBP to Digit Span backwards and Verbal Fluency. Worse cognitive assessment scores were obtained in WCH than GC.

Conclusions. The findings showed that in adult treated hypertensives, a poor BP control, as both doctor's office and daytime scores, is associated to impaired global cognitive and especially executive/attention functions.

Keywords: cognitive dysfunction, executive impairment, blood pressure control, ambulatory blood pressure monitoring.