High blood pressure ‘can affect memory in old age’

6 June 2014

Having high blood pressure in middle age could affect the memory in later years, according to a new study published in Neurology.

The findings provide new insights into the relationship between hypertension and cognition, claims lead author Dr Lenore J Launer.

For the study, 4,057 middle-aged patients had their blood pressure measured. This was then repeated later in their lives. When they had reached old age, they underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to look at the structure and damage of the small blood vessels in the brain.

The results demonstrated a relationship between memory issues and high blood pressure in middle age.

Higher systolic (the top number on the measure of blood pressure) and diastolic (the bottom number) blood pressure were both linked to an increased risk of brain lesions and small brain bleeds.

Dr Launer commented: "Older people without a history of high blood pressure but who currently have high blood pressure are at an increased risk for brain lesions, suggesting that lowering of blood pressure in these participants might be beneficial.

“On the other hand, older people with a history of high blood pressure but who currently have lower blood pressure might have more extensive organ damage and are at risk of brain shrinkage and memory and thinking problems."

Posted by Edward Bartel

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