Public Defence: Håkon Ihle-Hansen

MD Håkon Ihle-Hansen at Institute of Clinical Medicine will be defending the thesis “Cognitive function and carotid atherosclerosis in 63–65-year-old men and women from the general population – Data from the Akershus Cardiac Examination (ACE) 1950 Study” for the degree of PhD (Philosophiae Doctor).

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Trial Lecture – time and place

See Trial Lecture.

Adjudication committee

  • First opponent: Professor Ellisiv B. Mathiesen, UiT – The Arctic University of Norway
  • Second opponent: Professor Per Wester, Umeå university
  • Third member and chair of the evaluation committee: Associate Professor Frank Becker, University of Oslo

Chair of the Defence

Vice-Rector Per Morten Sandset, University of Oslo

Principal Supervisor

Professor Arnljot Tveit, University of Oslo


As of today there is no treatment of cognitive impairment, leaving prevention as the only and preferable strategy.  In order to prevent cognitive decline, we need to identify subjects at risk for intensified risk control, as this may preserve cognitive function. Assessments of atherosclerosis and cognitive screening test are promising avenues to identify subjects at risk.

This doctoral thesis explored the relation between carotid atherosclerosis and cognitive performance already at the age of 63-65 in the Akershus Cardiac Examination (ACE) 1950 study, a large cohort study from the general population.

Thus, we aimed to investigate:

  1. cognitive function assessed with the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) test, a brief test of global cognitive function.
  2. the prevalence and amount of carotid atherosclerotic plaques using ultrasound, and
  3. the association between cognitive function and carotid plaques

All residents of Akershus County in Norway born in 1950 were invited, and 3,706 were enrolled.

Mean MoCA test score in the cohort was 25.3, and almost half of the population scored below the recommended MoCA cut-off score of 26. This finding indicates that this cut-off score may not be appropriate when this screening tool is applied in a general population at this age.

Atherosclerotic plaque in the carotid arteries was present in 87 percent of the population, and the carotid plaque burden was associated with known cardiovascular risk factors. The results indicate that subclinical atherosclerosis is far more prevalent than previously reported.

Increasing carotid plaque score was associated with decreasing MoCA test scores; however, in multivariable analysis, this relation was lost. In contrast, diameter or area of the thickest plaque as markers of advanced atherosclerosis remained independently associated to the MoCA score, in the sense that larger diameter or area of the thickest plaque was associated with lower MoCA scores.

Additional information

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Published Aug. 12, 2019 4:46 PM - Last modified Aug. 12, 2019 4:50 PM