High blood pressure is a dangerous and potentially fatal condition. Persistent high blood pressure can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. More than one in four people live with him in England, but many people will not realize it because the symptoms are difficult to recognize. People must remain vigilant and know the signs – an early warning sign is related to cognitive function, according to doctors.
According to a study published in the journal Neurology, high blood pressure is associated with memory problems in people over 45 years.
The study found that people with high diastolic blood pressure, which is the lowest number of blood pressure readings, were more likely to have cognitive impairment, or problems with memory and thinking skills, than people with normal diastolic readings.
For each 10-point increase in reading, the likelihood of someone having cognitive problems is seven percent higher.
The results are valid after adjusting for other factors that can affect cognitive abilities, such as age, smoking status, level of exercise, education, diabetes or high cholesterol.
The study involved nearly 20,000 people aged 45 and older across the country who participated in the Reason Study for Geographical and Race Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) and had never had a stroke or mini-stroke.
A total of 1,505 participants, or 7.6 percent, had cognitive problems, and 9,844, or 49.6 percent, used drugs for high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is defined as a reading equal to or higher than 140/90 or taking medication for high blood pressure.
"It is possible that by preventing or treating high blood pressure, we can potentially prevent cognitive impairment, which can be the beginning of dementia," said study author Georgios Tsivgoulis, MD, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.
How does high blood pressure cause cognitive impairment? Research has shown that high diastolic blood pressure causes a weakening of the small arteries in the brain, which can lead to the development of a small area of brain damage.
Tsivgoulis said more research was needed to confirm the relationship between high blood pressure and cognitive impairment.
"The REGARDS study is one of the largest population-based studies of stroke risk factors. The latest data show that higher blood pressure might be a risk factor for cognitive decline, but further studies will be needed to understand causal relationships," Walter J said Koroshetz, MD, deputy director of NINDS and Associate of the American Academy of Neurology.
"The National Institutes of Health are now holding large clinical trials to evaluate whether aggressive blood pressure reduction can reduce a number of important health outcomes including cognitive decline," he added.
The findings of this study underscore the importance of NHS advice which says that all adults over 40 are advised to check their blood pressure at least every five years.
"Doing this is easy and can save your life," the NHS said.
A person can be checked for blood pressure in a number of places, including:
- At the local GP operation
- At several pharmacies
- As part of the NHS Health Examination
- In several workplaces
One can also check their blood pressure at home with a blood pressure monitor.
According to health agencies, the following lifestyle changes can help prevent and reduce high blood pressure:
- Reduce the amount of salt you eat and do a generally healthy diet
- Reduce alcohol
- Lose weight if you are overweight
- Exercise regularly
- Reduce caffeine
- Quit smoking
- Try sleeping at least six hours every night