Interactive effects of age and hypertension on volumes of brain structures

Terri L. Strassburger, Hing Chung Lee, Eileen M. Daly, Joanna Szczepanik, Jack S. Krasuski, Marc J. Mentis, Judith A. Salerno, Charles DeCarli, Mark B. Schapiro, Gene E. Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

163 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose: Advanced age and hypertension have each been associated with changes in brain morphology and cognitive function. To investigate the interaction of age and hypertension with structural brain changes and neuropsychological performance in otherwise healthy patients with essential hypertension, we compared young-old (ages 56 to 69 years) and old- old (ages 70 to 84 years) hypertensive patients (n=27) with 20 age-matched normotensive healthy control subjects, using quantitative volumetric MRI and a battery of neuropsychological tests. Methods: Quantitative regions of interest and segmentation analyses were applied to MRI scans of brain to measure volumes of different brain structures and of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Severity of white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) was qualitatively rated in the MRI scans. A battery of neuropsychological tests was administered to each subject. Results: The combined hypertensive group (young-old and old-old) had smaller volumes of thalamic nuclei and larger volumes of CSF in the cerebellum and temporal lobes and showed poorer performance in memory and language tests than did the control subjects. Main effects for age were significant in multiple brain regions of interest. The old-old hypertensive patients and age-matched control subjects demonstrated volume reductions in brain structures and increases in ventricular and peripheral CSF volumes compared with the younger subjects. There was a significant group x age-group interaction in temporal and occipital CSF, not related to WMH, with the old-old hypertensive patients having significantly larger CSF volumes in these regions than the young-old hypertensives and both healthy control groups. Conclusions: Hypertension exacerbates the morphological changes accompanying advanced age. Temporal and occipital regions appear most vulnerable to brain atrophy due to the interactive effects of age and hypertension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1410-1417
Number of pages8
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1997


  • Aging
  • Hypertension
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Neuropsychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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