We always stress how dangerous high blood pressure is, but did you know that low blood pressure is a large threat to your health too? Where high blood pressure can increase your risk of a heart-related event, low blood pressure – or hypotension – can increase your risk of cognitive impairment or dementia.
Researchers found an association between declining blood pressure and the presence of subcortical microinfarcts. Subcortical microinfarcts were associated with a greater presence of APOE, which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
For the study, the researchers looked at both baseline blood pressure and blood pressure trends over time, along with the association with cortical or subcortical infarcts. Participants were from the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging who received serial antemortem blood pressure measurements and obtained data regarding the presence of microinfarcts at autopsy.
There were no significant changes between baseline blood pressure in patients with any cortical or subcortical microinfarcts and those without microinfarcts. On the other hand, patients with subcortical microinfarcts at autopsy had steeper annual drops in blood pressure – both systolic and diastolic. Those with cortical microinfarcts had a great proportion of APOE carriers.
The study doesn’t prove cause and effect but highlights the need for further research in the effects of low blood pressure or declining blood pressure. It also opens up the area of study to determine how hypertension medication aimed to lower blood pressure may affect cognitive function.
As much as it is important to reduce high blood pressure, it’s equally as important to ensure that your blood pressure isn’t dropping annually or that you live with low blood pressure as it can negatively impact your cognitive function.