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The mediating and moderating relationships between age, blood pressure, and everyday problem solving in older adults.

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(Thesis) M.A.
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Blood pressure is an important indicator of vascular health that is associated with cognitive performance. However, few studies have explored its effects on everyday cognitive tasks, which may better predict real-world functioning than traditional measures. We examined blood pressure as a continuous variable to more comprehensively analyze hypotensive and prehypertensive effects on traditional and everyday cognitive abilities, specifically everyday problem solving (EPS). In non-demented community-dwelling women (N = 74; age: 51-91), lower systolic blood pressure and lower pulse pressure predicted worse EPS performance after accounting for age, education, and anti-hypertensive medication use. Lower diastolic blood pressure predicted worse performance on executive functioning and perceptual speed. No moderating or mediating relationships between age and blood pressure were observed. Findings extend previous models by demonstrating that continuous blood pressure predicts both traditional and everyday cognition. Furthermore, lower blood pressure is not necessarily optimal for cognitive performance in middle-aged and older adults.
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