High Blood Pressure Linked to Memory Problems in
Reported August 25, 2009
(Ivanhoe Newswire) – High blood
pressure is linked to memory problems in people over 45, according to a new
study. The study found that people with high diastolic blood pressure, the
bottom number of a blood pressure reading, were more likely to have problems
with memory and thinking skills than people with normal diastolic readings.
Research has shown that high diastolic blood pressure leads to weakening of
small arteries in the brain, which can result in the development of small
areas of brain damage.
For every 10-point increase in the reading, the odds of a person having
cognitive problems increased by 7 percent. The results were valid after
adjusting for other factors that could affect cognitive abilities, such as
age, smoking, exercise level, education, diabetes or high cholesterol.
The study involved nearly 20,000 people age 45
and older across the country who participated in the Reasons for Geographic
And Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) Study. Participants 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, were taking medication 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's possible that by preventing or treating high blood pressure, we could
potentially prevent cognitive impairment, which can be a precursor to
dementia," study author Georgios Tsivgoulis, MD, of the University of
Alabama at Birmingham was quoted as saying.
"The REGARDS study is one of the largest population-based studies of risk
factors for stroke. These latest data suggest that higher blood pressure may
be a risk factor for cognitive decline, but further studies will be
necessary to understand the cause-effect relationship," Walter J. Koroshetz,
MD, deputy director of NINDS and Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology
is quoted as saying. "The National Institutes of Health is now organizing a
large clinical trial to evaluate whether aggressive blood pressure lowering
can decrease a number of important health outcomes including cognitive
SOURCE: Neurology, August 25, 2009