ESSENTIAL HYPERTENSION AND COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT
 
Behera, P., Indian Institute of Technology, India
 
Hypertension is the most common public health disaster prevalent throughout the world. High level of arterial blood pressure increases the risk of target organ damage and life threatening disorders of heart, kidneys, blood vessels and other neurological disturbances. The present investigation was designed to determine the relationship between hypertension and cognition and to measure the effect of anti hypertensive medication on cognitive functioning. The sample consists of sixty hypertensive patients out of whom thirty are treated and thirty untreated. The control group consists of thirty healthy persons. The age group was thirty five to fifty five years. The sample were not suffering from any of the major disorders like congestive heart failure, cardiovascular disorders, kidney dysfunction or transplant, diabetes, retinopathy etc. Six neuropsychological tests known to be sensitive to cognitive impairment like Mini Mental State Examination (Folstein, Folstein, and McHugh,1975), logical memory (Wechsler,1955),digit span (Wechsler, 1956), visual reproduction test (Wechsler,1958), trail making test (Maj et al, 1993) and shopping list ( Deles et al ,1987) were used to evaluate the cognitive functions. With age, education, occupation and socio-economic status being controlled, blood pressure level was inversely related to measures of attention, memory, global cognitive capacity and executive functioning. The result shows that hypertensive subjects perform poorly in all the cognitive measures in comparison to normal and the performance was worst in case of the untreated hypertensive subjects. Hypertension in the middle aged was found to be associated with the impairment in cognitive functions. Anti-hypertsive medication has a positive impact on cognitive functioning; it helps in further decline of cognitive performance occurring due to hypertension.