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Hypertension May Impair Cognition

Blood pressureA new report suggests high blood pressure can increase the risk for mild cognitive impairment, a condition that involves difficulties with thinking and learning.

Mild cognitive impairment has been identified as a characteristic of early Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, found is in the December issue of Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

“Mild cognitive impairment has attracted increasing interest during the past years, particularly as a means of identifying the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease as a target for treatment and prevention,” the authors write as background information in the article.

About 9.9 of every 1,000 elderly individuals without dementia develop mild cognitive impairment yearly. Of those, 10 percent to 12 percent progress to Alzheimer’s disease each year, compared with 1 percent to 2 percent of the general population.

Christiane Reitz, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues at the Columbia University Medical Center, New York, followed 918 Medicare recipients age 65 and older (average age 76.3) without mild cognitive impairment beginning in 1992 through 1994.

All participants underwent an initial interview and physical examination, along with tests of cognitive function, and then were examined again approximately every 18 months for an average of 4.7 years. Individuals with mild cognitive impairment had low cognitive scores and a memory complaint, but could still perform daily activities and did not receive a dementia diagnosis.

Over the follow-up period, 334 individuals developed mild cognitive impairment. This included 160 cases of amnestic mild cognitive impairment, which involves low scores on memory portions of the neuropsychological tests, and 174 cases of non-amnestic mild cognitive impairment.

Hypertension (high blood pressure) was associated with an increased risk of all types of mild cognitive impairment that was mostly driven by an increased risk of non-amnestic mild cognitive impairment; hypertension was not associated with amnestic mild cognitive impairment, nor with the change over time in memory and language abilities.

“The mechanisms by which blood pressure affects the risk of cognitive impairment or dementia remain unclear,” the authors write.

“Hypertension may cause cognitive impairment through cerebrovascular disease. Hypertension is a risk factor for subcortical white matter lesions found commonly in Alzheimer’s disease. Hypertension may also contribute to a blood-brain barrier dysfunction, which has been suggested to be involved in the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Other possible explanations for the association are shared risk factors,” including the formation of cell-damaging compounds known as free radicals.

“Our findings support the hypothesis that hypertension increases the risk of incident mild cognitive impairment, especially non-amnestic mild cognitive impairment,” the authors conclude.

“Preventing and treating hypertension may have an important impact in lowering the risk of cognitive impairment.”

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals

Hypertension May Impair Cognition

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Hypertension May Impair Cognition. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2007/12/12/hypertension-may-impair-cognition/1649.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.