Effects of remote ischemic conditioning on cognitive performance: A systematic review

Samuel Amorim, André Carvalho Felício, Per Aagaard, Charlotte Suetta, Rolf Ankerlund Blauenfeldt, Grethe Andersen


The aging process leads to subtle decline in cognitive function, and in some overt dementia. Like physical activity Remote Ischemic Conditioning (RIC) may ameliorate these changes on cognitive impairment in humans. The purpose of this study was to compared the effects of single, repeated short-term and long-term treatment RIC, and analyze its effect registered as immediate vs. long-term on cognitive performance in humans. This systematic review was conducted in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement and was registered with PROSPERO, number (CRD42021285668). A systematic review was conducted to identify relevant studies through six healthcare science databases (Cochrane, PubMed, EMBASE, EBSCO, Scopus, and Web of Science) up to December 2021. Eligibility criteria included (1) a study sample of participants aged ≥18 years, (2) post-intervention changes on cognitive performance in humans, and (3) this systematic review included only randomized controlled trials of RIC in humans. The quality of the included studies was assessed by GRADEpro tool. A total of 118 articles were initially identified, 35 of which met the inclusion criteria. Based on title/abstract, age and RIC protocol, 14 articles were included in this review: 5 studies investigated the immediate and long-term effect of a single RIC (n = 370 patients), 4 studies examined intermittent short-term RIC (n = 174 patients) and 5 studies evaluated repeated long-term RIC (n = 228 patients). A single pre-operative RIC treatment had an immediate effect that disappeared at one week. Short-term RIC showed either a positive or no effects on cognitive function. The majority of studies examining long-term RIC treatment showed improvements in cognitive performance, particularly in very old adults and older patients with cognitive impairments. Single RIC treatment did not show any persisting effect on cognition. However, repeated short term RIC showed some improvement and long-term RIC may improve cognitive performance after stroke or enhance neuropsychological tests in patients diagnosed with vascular dementia. The mixed results might be explained by different RIC treatment protocols and populations investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113893
JournalPhysiology & Behavior
Pages (from-to)113893
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2022


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive Dysfunction/therapy
  • Dementia, Vascular
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Stroke


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