Clinical Research| Volume 91, P210-217, April 2023

Cognitive Impairment is Common in a Veterans Affairs Population with Peripheral Arterial Disease

Published:December 26, 2022DOI:


      Despite the shared pathogenesis of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and vascular dementia, there are little data on cognitive impairment in PAD patients. We hypothesized that cognitive impairment will be common and previously unrecognized.


      Cognitive impairment screening was prospectively performed for veterans presenting to a single Veterans Affairs outpatient vascular surgery clinic from 2020–2021 for PAD consultation or disease surveillance. Overall, 125 Veterans were screened. Cognitive impairment was defined as a score of <26 on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) survey. A multivariable logistic regression assessed for independent risk factors for cognitive impairment.


      Overall, 77 (61%) had cognitive impairment, 92% was previously unrecognized. Cognitive impairment was associated with increased age (74.4 vs. 71.8 years, P = 0.03), Black versus White race (94% vs. 54%, P < 0.01), hypertension (66% vs. 31%, P = 0.01), prior stroke/TIA (79% vs. 58%, P = 0.03), diabetes treated with insulin (79% vs. 58%, P = 0.05), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (80% vs. 57%, P = 0.04). On multivariable analysis, risk factors for newly diagnosed cognitive impairment included age ≥70 years, diabetes treated with insulin, PTSD, and Black race.


      Many veterans with PAD have evidence of cognitive impairment and is overwhelmingly underdiagnosed. This study suggests cognitive impairment is an unrecognized issue in a VA population with PAD, requiring more study to determine cognitive impairment's impact on surgical outcomes, and how it can be mitigated and incorporated into clinical care.
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