High Blood Pressure Speeds The Loss Of Memory In Elderly, Researchers Find

July 07, 1997

DALLAS, July 7 -- High blood pressure speeds the loss of memory and other cognitive abilities in the elderly, and actually causes their brains to shrink in size, according to a new study reported in the American Heart Association Journal Stroke.

Researchers at the National Institutes on Aging (NIA) of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., compared otherwise healthy people with long-standing histories of well-controlled high blood pressure in two age groups (56-69 and 70-84 years) with individuals of the same age with normal blood pressures. All study participants received structural brain-imaging scans and neuropsychological tests.

"None of the patients with high blood pressure had ever had a stroke, and none had other diagnosed medical conditions," says Gene E. Alexander, Ph.D., NIA researcher and senior investigator in the study. "But they had more brain atrophy than those with normal blood pressure, and this effect was worsened by aging." There is also a reduction in memory ability in those with high blood pressure, and this that may also be accelerated with aging, he added.

Aging alone causes some loss of cognitive skills, Alexander notes, but the loss is accelerated when blood pressure is high, and changes occur despite the patients receiving drug therapy to control blood pressure.

The study's findings point to a type of old-age brain deterioration that is distinct from such conditions as Alzheimer's disease, Alexander notes. Furthermore, the results suggest that current treatment practices for hypertension in the elderly may not be sufficient to ward off the combined effects of high blood pressure and aging on the brain, where the advanced elderly appear most vulnerable to the long-standing effects of hypertension. "We still have much to learn about effects of the aging process," says Alexander, "but it's very important to understand how high blood pressure affects the brain so we can find a way to prevent the loss of cognitive function and improve the quality of life in the elderly."

Media advisory: Dr. Alexander can be reached at (301) 594-3134. Fax is (301) 402-0595. (Please do not publish telephone numbers.

American Heart Association

Related Blood Pressure Articles from Brightsurf:

Children who take steroids at increased risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, blood clots
Children who take oral steroids to treat asthma or autoimmune diseases have an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and blood clots, according to Rutgers researchers.

High blood pressure treatment linked to less risk for drop in blood pressure upon standing
Treatment to lower blood pressure did not increase and may decrease the risk of extreme drops in blood pressure upon standing from a sitting position.

Changes in blood pressure control over 2 decades among US adults with high blood pressure
National survey data were used to examine how blood pressure control changed overall among U.S. adults with high blood pressure between 1999-2000 and 2017-2018 and by age, race, insurance type and access to health care.

Transient increase in blood pressure promotes some blood vessel growth
Blood vessels are the body's transportation system, carrying oxygen and nutrients to cells and whisking away waste.

Effect of reducing blood pressure medications on blood pressure control in older adults
Whether the amount of blood pressure medications taken by older adults could be reduced safely and without a significant change in short-term blood pressure control was the objective of this randomized clinical trial that included 534 adults 80 and older.

Brain blood flow sensor discovery could aid treatments for high blood pressure & dementia
A study led by researchers at UCL has discovered the mechanism that allows the brain to monitor its own blood supply, a finding in rats which may help to find new treatments for human conditions including hypertension (high blood pressure) and dementia.

Here's something that will raise your blood pressure
The apelin receptor (APJ) has been presumed to play an important role in the contraction of blood vessels involved in blood pressure regulation.

New strategy for treating high blood pressure
The key to treating blood pressure might lie in people who are 'resistant' to developing high blood pressure even when they eat high salt diets, shows new research published today in Experimental Physiology.

Arm cuff blood pressure measurements may fall short for predicting heart disease risk in some people with resistant high blood pressure
A measurement of central blood pressure in people with difficult-to-treat high blood pressure could help reduce risk of heart disease better than traditional arm cuff readings for some patients, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association's Hypertension 2019 Scientific Sessions.

Heating pads may lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure when lying down
In people with supine hypertension due to autonomic failure, a condition that increases blood pressure when lying down, overnight heat therapy significantly decreased systolic blood pressure compared to a placebo.

Read More: Blood Pressure News and Blood Pressure Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.