Background: The relationship between hypertension and cognitive impairment has been investigated in the literature; several clinical studies suggested a relationship between hypertension and retinopathy. Methods: We examined the relationship between the retinopathy status and cognitive functions by using the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) among hypertensive subjects older than 40 years who were admitted to our Family Medicine, Internal Medicine and Ophthalmology clinics. The subjects were categorized into three groups: group 1 = control subjects (n = 39), group 2 = hypertensive patients without retinopathy (n = 32), and group 3 = hypertensive patients with retinopathy (n = 25). Results: The number of patients with total MMSE scores less than 24 was distributed as follows: group 1: 3 patients (7.7%), group 2: 4 patients (12.5%), and group 3: 14 patients (56%). Hypertension was found to be related with a significant decrease in total MMSE scores in comparison with group 1 subjects (p < 0.001). Furthermore, retinopathy significantly correlated with lower MMSE scores among hypertensive patients (p = 0.001). Compared with group 1, group 3 showed a significant decrease in orientation (p = 0.001), registration (p = 0.001), attention and calculation (p = 0.004), recall (p = 0.009), and total (p < 0.001) MMSE scores. We also found a significant decrease in recall (p = 0.032) and total (p = 0.034) scores in group 3 when compared with group 2. There was a significant decrease in registration (p = 0.002) and total (p = 0.029) MMSE scores in group 2 when compared with group 1. We also observed negative correlations between duration of the disease and orientation (R = –0.597, n = 32, p = 0.001), and between duration of the disease and total (R = –0.495, n = 32, p = 0.006) scores in group 2. Conclusions: Hypertension was found to be related with a decline in MMSE scores. This relation was even more significant in the group of hypertensive patients with retinopathy. Thus, we suggest that cognitive tests be routinely used in the follow-up of hypertensive patients.

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