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Blood Pressure Variation Linked to Cognitive Decline

Posted Aug 28 2013 10:08pm

Regular blood pressure monitoring may be an emerging approach to counter declining cognitive skills.   Simon P Mooijaart, from Leiden University Medical Center (The Netherlands), and colleagues assessed  cognitive function at the beginning of the study with the mini-mental state exam (MMSE) and at the end with standard tests looking at selective attention, processing speed, and immediate and delayed memory.  The team also analyzed MRI images from a subset of participants, 553 Dutch s for whom both MRI and blood pressure variability data were available. Higher systolic and diastolic pressure variability were significantly associated with worse performance on the Stroop test of selective attention, as well as tests measuring processing speed, immediate memory, and delayed memory.  As well, blood pressure variability also was associated with structural change in the brain and cerebral microbleeds.  The study authors conclude that: “Higher visit-to-visit variability in blood pressure independent of average blood pressure was associated with impaired cognitive function in old age.”

Behnam Sabayan, Liselotte W Wijsman, Jessica C Foster-Dingley, David J Stott, Ian Ford, Simon P Mooijaart, et al.  “Association of visit-to-visit variability in blood pressure with cognitive function in old age: prospective cohort study.”  BMJ, 30 July 2013.

  
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Tip #192 - Stay Connected
Researchers from the University of Chicago (Illinois, USA) report that social isolation may be detrimental to both mental and physical health. The team analyzed data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project, a nationwide US study involving 3,000 men and women, ages 57 to 85 years. They arrived at three key findings regarding the relationships between health and different types of isolation:

• The researchers found that the most socially connected older adults are three times as likely to report very good or excellent health compared to those who are least connected, regardless of whether they feel isolated.

• The team found that older adults who feel least isolated are five times as likely to report very good or excellent health as those who feel most isolated, regardless of their actual level of social connectedness.

• They determined that social disconnectedness is not related to mental health unless it brings feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Separately, Rush University Medical Center (Illinois, USA) researchers studied 906 older men and women, testing their motor functions (including grip, pinch strength, balance, and walking) and surveying their social activity, for a period of 5 years. Those study participants with less social activity were found to have a more rapid rate of motor function decline. Specifically, the team found that every one-point decrease in social activity corresponded to an increase in functional aging of 5 years, translating to a 40% higher risk of death and 65% higher risk of disability.

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