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High Blood Pressure Ups Risk of Later-Life Dementia

A new study suggests high blood pressure may put women at greater risk for dementia later in life by increasing white matter abnormalities in the brain.

Unfortunately, high blood pressure (HBP) is a common health finding in America with one in four women being diagnosed with HBP. The disorder is becoming more common with cases of hypertension increasing by 30 percent in the last decade.

“Hypertension is very common in the U.S. and many other countries, and can lead to serious health problems,” said Lewis Kuller, M.D., Dr.P.H., professor of epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

“Proper control of blood pressure, which remains generally poor, may be very important to prevent dementia as women age.”

The study, part of the multisite and long-term Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS), included 1,424 women 65 or older who had their blood pressure assessed annually and underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain.

Researchers assessed white matter lesions, which are associated with increased risks for dementia and stroke. White matter makes up 60 percent of the brain and contains nerve fibers responsible for communication among the brain’s regions.

Women who, at the start of the study, were hypertensive, meaning a blood pressure of 140/90 or higher, had significantly more white matter lesions on their MRI scans eight years later than participants with normal blood pressure. Lesions were more common in the frontal lobe, the brain’s emotional control center and home to personality, than in the occipital, parietal or temporal lobes.

“Women should be encouraged to control high blood pressure when they are young or in middle age in order to prevent serious problems later on,” said Dr. Kuller.

“Prevention and control of elevated blood pressure and subsequent vascular disease in the brain may represent the best current preventive therapy for dementia.”

Source: University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

High Blood Pressure Ups Risk of Later-Life Dementia

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. (2016). High Blood Pressure Ups Risk of Later-Life Dementia. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 25, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/01/14/high-blood-pressure-ups-risk-of-later-life-dementia/10751.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 5 Jul 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 Jul 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.