September 21 is World Alzheimer’s Day.
A recent study shows our blood pressure at mid-life may have an impact on our brain function down the road.
Cleveland Clinic’s Jagan Pillai, M.D., Ph.D., did not take part in the study, but said high blood pressure, if left unchecked, can set us up for memory problems as we age.
“What they found is that people, compared to people whose blood pressure was normal in the middle age/mid-life, and then which continued to have normal blood pressure throughout their life, people who had higher blood pressures in their mid-life and continued to have higher blood pressures in their later life have a higher onset of, a higher chance or risk, of onset of dementia.”
Researchers studied the blood pressures of more than 4,000 people over a 24 year period.
They found that people with the high blood pressure condition ‘hypertension’ during mid-life and later in life, as well as those who developed hypertension later in life, were more likely to develop dementia than those who maintained a healthy blood pressure.
Dr. Pillai said when a person develops dementia, it doesn’t happen overnight.
He said some of the changes that happen in the brain begin a decade or more before symptoms appear.
While there are a lot of underlying reasons that lead to dementia, Dr. Pillai said this study suggests that maintaining a healthy blood pressure throughout life may be one way to decrease risk of declining brain function.
“Studies like this clearly show that investing in your general health and even in your mid-life, will pay substantial dividends much later on and that helps you enjoy the quality of life that you would like to lead,” he said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every three U.S. adults has high blood pressure, and only a little more than half of them have their high blood pressure under control.
Complete results of the study can be found in JAMA.