Objective: To investigate the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of 10-second heart rate variability (HRV) with various domains of cognitive function in older participants at risk of cardiovascular disease. Methods: We studied 3,583 participants, mean age of 75.0 years, who were enrolled in the Prospective Study of Pravastatin in the Elderly at Risk. From baseline 10-second ECGs, standard deviation of normal-to-normal intervals was calculated as the index of HRV. Four cognitive domains were assessed at baseline and repeated during a mean follow-up period of 3.2 years. Results: Lower HRV at baseline was associated with worse performance in reaction time (mean difference between low third vs high third of HRV 1.96 seconds, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.20 to 3.71) and processing speed (-0.57 digits coded, 95% CI -1.09 to -0.05). During follow-up, participants with lower HRV had a steeper decline in processing speed (mean annual change between low third vs high third of HRV -0.16 digits coded, 95% CI -0.28 to -0.04). There was no difference in annual changes of reaction time or immediate and delayed memory among HRV thirds during follow-up. All these associations remained unchanged after adjustment for medications, cardiovascular risk factors, and comorbidities. Conclusions: Participants with lower 10-second HRV have worse performance in reaction time and processing speed and experience steeper decline in their processing speed, independent of medications, cardiovascular risk factors, and comorbidities.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology