Seniors’ cognition affected by midlife high blood pressure

By: Emily Lunardo | Health News | Saturday, July 18, 2015 - 06:00 AM

SeniorBrainsHow was your blood pressure midlife? If it was high, it could be affecting your brain health in your older years, according to research by the Boston University Medical Center.

People are living longer. Many will go well into their 80s. While have been numerous previous studies, which have examined cardiovascular risk linked to dementia, few have looked at the link between cardiovascular risk and cognitive decline.

For the new study, data was taken from the Framingham Heart Study. Researchers examined blood pressure levels from 378 participants aged 50 to 60. Thirty years later they tested the participants on their cognitive performance. What researchers found was those who had high blood pressure in their 50s to 60s had lower scores in relation to attention and executive function in their 80s.

“Decline in cognition is often considered an inevitable consequence of aging, and age is the single biggest risk factor for dementia,” said Rhoda Au, professor of neurology and research at Boston University Medical Center’s Jefferson Laboratory of Cognitive Aging.

“But perhaps managing factors that impact brain aging, such as blood pressure, will help increase brain health and reduce the risk for dementia.”

The importance of maintaining healthy blood pressure in your younger and midlife years is high. High blood pressure raises your risk of other cardiovascular events as well. Weight loss, medication and exercise are some viable means to reduce your high blood pressure.

The findings were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s disease.

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