We previously reported a relationship between forearm resistance vessel function and global neuropsychological performance in patients with atherosclerotic vascular disease (AVD). This study was conducted to determine the relationships among vascular smooth muscle function, endothelial function, and initiation and processing speed in this sample. Participants were 80 individuals with AVD. Resistance vessel function was measured before and after infusion of vasoactive agents. Neuropsychological assessment included measures of estimated premorbid cognitive function, current global cognitive function, initiation, and processing speed. Vascular smooth muscle function was significantly associated with the initiation/processing speed composite score [R-Square Change = .152; F Change (1,71) = 16.61; p < .001], above and beyond the variance accounted for by age, education, premorbid cognitive function, and endothelium-dependent vascular function. This relationship remained significant when controlling for current level of global cognitive functioning and 10 vascular risk factors. Endothelium-dependent vascular function was not significantly associated with test performance. Decreased vascular smooth muscle function in forearm resistance vessels was significantly associated with relatively poor initiation and processing speed in individuals with AVD. With additional research, measures of vascular function might become useful in the early identification of those individuals at greatest risk for vascular-related cognitive dysfunction. (JINS, 2008, 14, 535–541.)
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