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Reversal of cognitive impairment in a hypotensive elderly population using a passive exercise intervention

Authors McLeod KJ, Stromhaug A

Received 1 August 2017

Accepted for publication 12 October 2017

Published 7 November 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 1859—1866

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S147959

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker


Kenneth J McLeod, Astrid Stromhaug

Sonostics, Inc, Endicott, NY, USA


Background: Cognitive decline in the elderly is strongly associated with cerebral hypoperfusion, a condition that can be reversed with exercise. Adhering to a traditional exercise regimen, however, is challenging for this population.
Objective: In a pilot clinical study, we evaluated the ability of a “passive” exercise regimen (noninvasive calf muscle pump stimulation) to normalize blood pressure in a chronically hypotensive elderly population and enhance cognitive function.
Participants and methods: Ten elderly (82.5±7.5 years) men and women volunteers, residing in a senior living facility in upstate New York, were divided into control (N=5) and intervention (N=5) groups based on initial diastolic blood pressure (DBP); participants with initial DBP <65 mmHg became intervention participants, and those with initial DBP >65 mmHg enrolled in the control group. Body mass, blood pressure, and executive function (using incongruent Stroop and Trailmaking B test) were evaluated weekly for 4 months.
Results: At initiation of the study, time to complete the executive function tests in the hypotensive group was almost twice that of the control group. Daily calf muscle pump stimulation (passive exercise) for 1 hour/day, or less, was found to be sufficient to normalize DBP and significantly improve performance on the executive function tests.

Keywords: cognitive impairment, chronic hypotension, soleus stimulation, executive function

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