PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles

Critical Care and Emergency Medicine - Mental Health - Neuroscience - Physiology - Public Health and Epidemiology

Neuropsychiatric Symptoms in Patients with Aortic Aneurysms
Published: Friday, July 22, 2011
Author: Bernhard T. Baune et al.

by Bernhard T. Baune, Steven J. Unwin, Frances Quirk, Jonathan Golledge


Emerging evidence suggests that vascular disease confers vulnerability to a late-onset of depressive illness and the impairment of specific cognitive functions, most notably in the domains of memory storage and retrieval. Lower limb athero-thrombosis and abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) have both been previously associated with neuropsychiatric symptoms possibly due to associated intracerebral vascular disease or systemic inflammation, hence suggesting that these illnesses may be regarded as models to investigate the vascular genesis of neuropsychiatric symptoms. The aim of this study was to compare neuropsychiatric symptoms such as depression, anxiety and a variety of cognitive domains in patients who had symptoms of peripheral athero-thrombosis (intermittent claudication) and those who had an asymptomatic abdominal aortic aneurysm AAA.

Methodology/Principal Findings

In a cross-sectional study, 26 participants with either intermittent claudication or AAA were assessed using a detailed neuropsychiatric assessment battery for various cognitive domains and depression and anxiety symptoms (Hamilton Depression and Anxiety Scales). Student t test and linear regression analyses were applied to compare neuropsychiatric symptoms between patient groups. AAA participants showed greater levels of cognitive impairment in the domains of immediate and delayed memory as compared to patients who had intermittent claudication. Cognitive dysfunction was best predicted by increasing aortic diameter. CRP was positively related to AAA diameter, but not to cognitive function. AAA and aortic diameter in particular were associated with cognitive dysfunction in this study.


AAA patients are at a higher risk for cognitive impairment than intermittent claudication patients. Validation of this finding is required in a larger study, but if confirmed could suggest that systemic factors peculiar to AAA may impact on cognitive function.