The study found that a high pulse pressure, which is the systolic pressure or the top number in a blood pressing reading minus the diastolic or bottom number, was linked to biomarkers of Alzheimer’s in a patient’s spinal fluid.
Researchers noted that pulse pressure, which increases with age, is a sign of the aging of the vascular system.
The study included 177 people between the ages of 55 to 100 with no symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. The participants had their pulse pressure taken, followed by lumbar punctures to obtain spinal fluid.
The researchers found that people who have higher pulse pressure are more likely to have the Alzheimer’s biomarkers amyloid beta, also known as plaques, p-tau protein or tangles, in their cerebral spinal fluid than those with a lower pulse pressure.
For every 10 point rise in pulse pressure, the average level of p-tau protein in the spinal fluid rose by 1.5 picograms per millileter. A picogram is one trillionth of a gram, researchers explained.
“These results suggest that the forces involved in blood circulation may be related to the development of the hallmark Alzheimer’s disease signs that cause loss of brain cells,” said study author Daniel A. Nation, Ph.D., of the VA San Diego Healthcare System.
The researcher noted that the link was found in people between the ages of 55 to 70, but not in people age 70 to 100.
“This is consistent with findings indicating that high blood pressure in middle age is a better predictor of later problems with memory and thinking skills and loss of brain cells than high blood pressure in old age,” concluded Nation.
The study was published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Source: American Academy of Neurology