• Untreated hypertension could lead to poor brain health, study says

    By: Najja Parker, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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    It's long been known that blood pressure can lead to diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses. It can also cause cognitive decline, according to a new report. 

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    Researchers from Columbia University recently conducted an observational study, presented at a recent American Heart Association session, to explore the association between brain health and hypertension.

    To do so, they gathered data on 11,000 adults from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study from 2011 to 2015. 

    For this assessment, high blood pressure was defined as having a systolic blood pressure of 140 mmHg or higher and a diastolic blood pressure of 90 mmHg or higher, which is a bit higher than the American Heart Association guidelines

    The team also interviewed the participants about their high blood pressure treatment and education level and noted whether they lived in a rural or urban area. They also asked the subjects to perform cognitive tests, such as memory quizzes. 

    After analyzing the results, they found those 55 and older with untreated high blood pressure had a more rapid rate of cognitive decline, compared to those on treatment for high blood pressure and those who did not have it. 

    Those who did receive blood pressure treatment and those who did not have hypertension at all had a similar rate of cognitive decline. 

    “This study focused on middle-aged and older adults in China, however, we believe our results could apply to populations elsewhere as well,” co-author Shumin Riu said in a statement

    The scientists do not yet understand why high blood pressure treatments may lead to slower cognitive decline, but they hope to continue their investigations to determine whether some treatments may be more effective than others. 

    “We need to better understand how high blood pressure treatments may protect against cognitive decline and look at how high blood pressure and cognitive decline are occurring together.”


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