Cardiovascular Response to Mental Stress in Mild Cognitive Impairment and its Association with Cerebral Perfusion

Brandon C. Henley, Mahsa Shokouhi, Anushree Y. Mahajan, Omer T. Inan, Ihab Hajjar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Mental stress has been linked to various chronic diseases including Alzheimer's disease, but the mechanisms underlying cognitive decline with mental stress are unknown. Reduced cardiovascular response to stress is associated with cardiovascular disease, and the latter is associated with cognitive impairment. We measured electrodermal activity, blood pressure, and cardiac hemodynamics in cognitively normal and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) adults (n=76, mean age=58 years, 46% MCI) during rest, a math test, and face-name recall tasks to derive the following cardiovascular indicators: mean arterial pressure, heart rate, stroke volume and cardiac output. These indicators were compared between the two groups. Cerebral blood perfusion via arterial spin-labeling MRI was measured in a subgroup who underwent an MRI scan (n=30). Following exposure to mental stress, a decrease in stroke volume (p=0.024) and cardiac output (p=0.005) was found in the MCI group, but an increase in both parameters in the cognitively normal group. This difference was largest during face-name recall (standardized difference in stroke volume=-0.50, p=0.029, and in cardiac output=-0.52, p=0.023). Cardiac output during mental stress, but not at rest, decreased with cerebral perfusion (normal: p=0.078, β=1.97, R 2 =0.090; MCI: p=0.007, β=2.02, R 2 =0.008). No significant difference was found between the two groups at rest. This preliminary study suggests that individuals with MCI have an insufficient cardiac output, and in turn lower cerebral perfusion in response to mental stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)645-654
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiovascular reactivity
  • cerebral blood flow
  • cognitive impairment
  • functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • hemodynamics
  • mental health
  • stress
  • vascular disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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