High blood pressure may contribute to memory loss and other declines in brain function in people 45 and older, according to a study. The higher the reading, the more likely the individuals were to show impairment.
With each 10-point increase in diastolic blood pressure, the odds of cognitive difficulties grew by 7 percent, according to the report published today in the journal Neurology. This measurement is the force exerted on arteries when the heart is at rest.
The study builds on previous research probing the connection between blood pressure and brain function. The research thus far has yielded conflicting results, said Georgios Tsivgoulis, an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, and a lead study author, in an e-mail today. The study is noteworthy because it analyzed more than 19,000 participants, Maria C. Carrillo, senior director of medical and scientific relations for the Alzheimer’s Association in Chicago, said today in a telephone interview.
“It lends further support to what we had already really thought was the case,” said Carrillo. “That is that high blood pressure, and certainly cerebrovascular diseases, do contribute to increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”