Ninety to ninety-five percent of cases of high blood pressure have no clear cause, though a new study from the Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Russia has found that hypertension may be linked to changes in brain activity and blood flow that occur in early life. High blood pressure is a risk factor for issues concerning the brain, kidneys, heart, eyes, and various other parts of the body. While there is extensive knowledge on the regulation of blood pressure, little is known about the potential causes of high blood pressure.
To review how hypertension affects the brain, researchers used rat models that were modified to have elevated blood pressure develop from four to six weeks of life. They compared these rats to a group with normal blood pressure levels and found that as the rats aged, changes occurred in the rates of blood flow to certain arteries in the rats with high blood pressure. The high blood pressure groups also displayed changes in brain activity—most notably a decrease in the prefrontal cortex as well as an increase in the hypothalamus.
The results of the study revealed a link between these changes and hypertension, and suggest that they may be taking place early on in life. Further studies may find the mechanisms that drive this process so prevention of hypertension and in turn, the diseases it may cause.