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International Journal of Hypertension
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 989345, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/989345
Research Article

Decreased Cognitive/CNS Function in Young Adults at Risk for Hypertension: Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Department of Psychology, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634, USA

Received 27 July 2011; Revised 14 October 2011; Accepted 17 October 2011

Academic Editor: Tavis S. Campbell

Copyright © 2012 James A. McCubbin et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Hypertension has been linked to impaired cognitive/CNS function, and some of these changes may precede development of frank essential hypertension. The stress and fatigue of sleep deprivation may exacerbate these cognitive changes in young adults at risk. We hypothesize that individuals at risk for hypertension will show significant declines in cognitive function during a night of sleep deprivation. Fifty-one young adults were recruited for 28-hour total sleep deprivation studies. Hypertension risk was assessed by mildly elevated resting blood pressure and by family history of hypertension. A series of cognitive memory tasks was given at four test sessions across the sleep deprivation period. Although initially comparable in cognitive performance, persons at risk showed larger declines across the night for several indices of working memory, including code substitution, category, and order recall. These results suggest that cognitive/CNS changes may parallel or precede blood pressure dysregulation in the early stages of hypertension development. The role of CNS changes in the etiology of essential hypertension is discussed.