A new study has come to a clear conclusion about blood pressure and brain function. Regardless of age, high blood pressure takes a toll on memory and thinking skills.
The findings, published in Hypertension, the journal of the American Heart Association, suggested that even hypertensive middle-aged folks experienced cognitive decline. And even if high blood pressure was kept in check until advanced age, cognition took a steep decline once it set it.
The long and short of the study is that if you’ve got high blood pressure at any age, you can almost bet that it will take a toll on your ability to think and remember.
But much like blood pressure, the effects on your brain may be correctible. The study found that getting blood pressure under control can preserve brain health and slow cognitive decline.
Therefore, controlling blood pressure may be an imperative component of preventing memory loss and preserving thinking skills.
There is still no proven cause-and-effect link between high blood pressure and mental decline. There are a few indications as to why the association exists.
High blood pressure can limit the flow of oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to the brain, which can cause damage to brain cells.
Chronic inflammation is also linked to high blood pressure and damaged white matter in the brain. White matter damage can result in cognitive decline and increase dementia risk.
Thankfully, the study found that reducing blood pressure with medication and/or lifestyle measures was able to show benefits to brain health.
You can work on lowering blood pressure by:
- Continuing with any existing treatment or medications
- Slowly increasing the amount of daily physical activity
- Including more colorful fruits and vegetables into your diet
- Eating more fiber-rich whole grains
- Staying hydrated
- Limiting intake of processed foods, refined grains, and high-sugar items
Devon Andre holds a bachelor’s degree in forensic science from the University of Windsor in Canada and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Pittsburgh. Andre is a journalist for BelMarraHealth, which first published this article.