High Blood Pressure and Cognitive Health
As if we needed more warnings about high blood pressure, research1 has shown that hypertension, even for short periods of time in middle aged and older adults, can increase the rate of cognitive decline. Cognitive decline is a normal part of aging, but issues such as high blood pressure can speed up the process. For some however, this can turn into more serious conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Cognitive function includes memory, concentration, attention span, thinking and verbal fluency. Of particular concern is that estimates now show upwards of half of all adults in the United States have high blood pressure.
Interestingly, the research did not show any appreciable difference associated with age of onset. One would imagine that high blood pressure at an earlier age would lead to more severe cognitive decline later, but this was not the case.
On a more positive note, controlling high blood pressure has the opposite effect. Meaning, by reducing your blood pressure, you can lower your risk of cognitive decline.
The Heart House’s Take
High blood pressure is clearly linked to several cardiovascular concerns up to and including increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. The brain, of course, feeds off oxygen rich blood flow and it stands to reason that it’s ability would decline if this blood flow were somehow compromised. The root conditions that cause high blood pressure do just that. As such, this new research adds to the urgency of treating high blood pressure.
When we treat the disorder, we look to start the process with the most conservative option available – lifestyle change in the form of diet and exercise. However, many patients find it difficult to sustain this lifestyle change and we often must move on to medications Ultimately no matter how we get blood pressure under control, it has clear benefits over leaving it untreated.
If you are suffering from chronic high blood pressure, we encourage you to visit one of our qualified cardiologists to learn more about treatment options and to start a treatment regimen as soon as possible.
1American Heart Association. “High blood pressure at any age, no matter how long you have it, may speed cognitive decline.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 December 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/12/201214090133.htm>.