Memory Alert: High Blood Pressure May Age Your Brain – Even If You’re Under 40

(Forbes) – Researchers at the University of California at Davis released a study today that should give anyone with even mildly elevated blood pressure pause. It seems that having blood pressure higher than the optimal 120/80 may be aging your brain, putting you at risk for memory problems and eventually for dementia and Alzheimer’s. And this appears to be true even for people in their thirties and even for people with pre-hypertension.

Using data from the highly regarded Framingham Heart Study, the UC Davis team led by professor of neurology Charles DeCarli compared detailed brain scans of 575 people who joined the study in 2009, most in their thirties. DeCarli and his team divided the participants into three groups: hypertensive, pre-hypertensive, and normal blood pressure. They then analyzed the gray and white matter of their brains using high-tech MRIs.

Previous studies have linked high blood pressure with memory loss, Alzheimer’s, and dementia but this study, published online today in the November online version of The Lancet Neurology, appears to be the first one showing that the decline may begin as early as the 30s and 40s. Experts believe that stiffening or hardening of the arteries caused by high blood pressure gradually limits blood flow to the brain, depriving the brain of oxygen over time.


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