Aortic hemodynamics and cognitive performance in postmenopausal women: Impact of pregnancy history

Kathleen B. Miller, Julie A. Fields, Ronée E. Harvey, Brian D. Lahr, Kent R. Bailey, Michael J. Joyner, Virginia M. Miller, Jill N. Barnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Studies demonstrate an association between aortic hemodynamics and cognitive function. The impact of pregnancy history on this association is unknown. METHODS: Postmenopausal women (age 59 ± 5 years; years since last pregnancy 35 ± 3) with either a history of preeclampsia (PE; n = 34) or a history of a normotensive pregnancy (NP; n = 30) underwent cognitive testing: Letter-Number Sequencing, Digit Span, Trail Making Test, and letter and category fluency. Applanation tonometry was used to derive aortic systolic and diastolic blood pressure and augmentation index. RESULTS: Distribution of cognitive scores and aortic hemodynamic measures was similar between the PE and NP groups. Principal component (PC) analysis was used to reduce the 3 aortic hemodynamic measures and the 5 cognitive variables to single summary indices, each representing a weighted average of their respective constituent variables. Using a multivariable linear model based on these PCs that adjusted for pregnancy history and body mass index, the composite index of aortic hemodynamics was associated with the summary cognitive index, whether taking into account a potential interaction with pregnancy history (P = 0.035) or not (P = 0.026) (interaction P = 0.178). Multivariable modeling of individual cognitive tests revealed a differential association for letter fluency by pregnancy history (test for interaction P = 0.023); this score correlated with the aortic hemodynamic index in the PE (partial R2 = 0.20), but not the NP (partial R2 = 0.00) group. CONCLUSIONS: Elevated aortic hemodynamics may negatively impact cognitive function in postmenopausal women with specific executive functions, such as letter fluency, being impacted more by a pregnancy history of PE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)756-764
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of hypertension
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • Aortic stiffness
  • Blood pressure
  • Cognition
  • Hypertension
  • Menopause
  • Preeclampsia
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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