High blood pressure and Alzheimer’s risk

One of the most recent researches has shown that scientists have found a link between high blood pressure and tangles in the brain seen in those with Alzheimer’s disease.

To identify the association between high blood pressure and brain health, researchers studied 1,288 participants until they died. On usual, each individual was studied for eight years and died when they were about 89.

When scientists and clinicians evaluate blood pressure, they use two measures. Systolic blood pressure in the blood vessels when the heart is contracting, (which should be 120mmHg or less) and diastolic blood pressure, or between beats (which should measure 80mmHg or less). (The abbreviation mmHg refers to “millimeters of mercury,” or the height a column of mercury rises when reading blood pressure).

On average, the participants had a blood pressure of 134/72mmHg, or 134 systolic over 72 diastolic. Two thirds of the individuals had a history of high blood pressure, with 87 percent taking medication.

The autopsies exposed a link between a higher than average systolic blood pressure in the years leading up to an individual’s death, and the number of brain tangles. Scientists didn’t, however, find the same link with the sign.

The data indicated the higher a person’s systolic blood pressure, the higher their risk of developing brain lesions. A total of 48 percent of participants had at least one brain infarct lesion.

The consequence of this was the corresponding of nine years of brain aging, the researchers said. But the researchers also found a declining systolic blood pressure carried a risk of developing one or more brain lesions.

The conclusion remained the same even when factors such as the use of blood pressure medication were taken into account, the study authors noted. As the number of people being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s grows, the next step could be to explore the effects of controlling blood pressure at a healthy level during mid and late life to see whether this can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.


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