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Objectives: Higher or lower blood pressure may relate to cognitive impairment, whereas the relationship between blood pressure and cognitive impairment among the elderly is not well-studied. The study objective was to determine whether blood pressure is associated with cognitive impairment in the elderly, and, if so, to accurately describe the association.

Design: Cross-sectional data from the sixth wave of the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey (CLHLS) conducted in 2011.

Setting: Community-based setting in longevity areas in China.

Participants: A total of 7144 Chinese elderly aged 65 years and older were included in the sample.

Measures: Systolic blood pressures (SBP) and diastolic blood pressures (DBP) were measured, pulse pressure (PP) was calculated as (SBP) − (DBP) and mean arterial pressures (MAP) was calculated as 1/3(SBP) + 2/3(DBP). Cognitive function was assessed via a validated Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE).

Results: Based on the results of generalized additive models (GAMs), U-shaped associations were identified between cognitive impairment and SBP, DBP, PP, and MAP. The cutpoints at which risk for cognitive impairment (MMSE <24) was minimized were determined by quadratic models as 141 mm Hg, 85 mm Hg, 62 mm Hg, and 103 mm Hg, respectively. In the logistic models, U-shaped associations remained for SBP, DBP, and MAP but not PP. Below the identified cutpoints, each 1-mm Hg decrease in blood pressure corresponded to 0.7%, 1.1%, and 1.1% greater risk in the risk of cognitive impairment, respectively. Above the cutpoints, each 1-mm Hg increase in blood pressure corresponded to 1.2%, 1.8%, and 2.1% greater risk of cognitive impairment for SBP, DBP, and MAP, respectively.

Conclusion: A U-shaped association between blood pressure and cognitive function in an elderly Chinese population was found. Recognition of these instances is important in identifying the high-risk population for cognitive impairment and to individualize blood pressure management for cognitive impairment prevention.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.