Vascular Burden and Cognitive Functioning in Depressed Older Adults.

Author: Schneider B, Ercoli L, Siddarth P, Lavretsky H.
From the Psychology Service, Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center, West Los Angeles (BS) and UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior (LF, PS, HL), Los Angeles, CA.
Conference/Journal: Am J Geriatr Psychiatry.
Date published: 2011 Aug 18
Other: Word Count: 184

Vascular burden is known to contribute to geriatric depression and cognitive impairment. The objective of our study was to evaluate the relationship between vascular burden and pattern of cognitive impairment in older adults with depression.

Ninety-four community-dwelling older adults (mean age = 70.8 years; SD = 7.63) diagnosed with major depression were recruited to participate in the tai chi complementary use study aimed to improve antidepressant response to an antidepressant medication. All participants received comprehensive evaluations of depression, apathy, and vascular risk factors, and completed a battery of cognitive measures of memory, cognitive control, verbal fluency, and attention.

The severity of vascular burden was significantly correlated with depression severity and impaired performance on measures of cognitive control (i.e., inhibition/mental flexibility), and attention, but not memory or verbal fluency. Neither the severity of comorbid apathy nor medical illness burden was related to cognitive impairment.

Vascular burden in older depressed adults contributes to cognitive impairment, particularly in domains of attention and cognitive control. Our findings suggest that aggressive treatment of vascular risk factors may reduce risk for further cognitive decline in depressed older adults.

PMID: 21857219