#447: High blood pressure linked to memory loss in those 45 and older

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Dr. Tedd Mitchell, Cooper Clinic president and CEO is interviewed by Todd Whitthorne, and talks about how a recent study linking high blood pressure to memory loss in adults 45 years and older.

The study, reported in the Journal of Neurology (August 25, 2009 issue), looked at the link between high blood pressure and memory. People as young at 45 years of age with high blood pressure, are more likely to have memory issues, suggesting that aggressive early treatment of high blood pressure can have huge dividends. Dr. Mitchell says one of the things we have long associated with high blood pressure is small strokes, mini strokes (Transient Ischemic Attack), but it’s generally in the elderly. What this study suggests is that there may be an effect on cognitive function in people with high blood pressure, even if they don’t show evidence of any mini strokes (TIAs).

The study included almost 20,000 people, ages 45 and older, with no evidence of stroke or TIAs. More than 7 percent of the subjects had memory problems, and nearly half of the people were taking medication for high blood pressure. Researchers found that for every 10 point increase in the bottom blood pressure number, the systolic number, odds of having cognitive problems increased by 7 percent!

Our bodily systems are related, and what we do for our heart is good for our brain. Likewise, the health choices we make that aren’t good for our heart also have a potential negative impact on our brain. Dr. Mitchell reminds us that being treated for high blood pressure doesn’t necessarily mean that our blood pressure is controlled and monitoring is imperative – with a blood pressure cuff at home or by using the machines at the grocery or drug store. The detriments of high blood pressure impact us early and it’s just imperative that we keep our number down. When it comes to blood pressure, a general rule of thumb is that the lower the blood pressure the better. The lower we can drop our blood pressure, the lower our impact on the organs of the body.

When watching blood pressure, salt may be an issue. The elderly and African Americans tend to be more salt sensitive than others. For some, cutting sodium significantly reduces blood pressure, while for others it doesn’t make a significant difference.

High Blood Pressure Linked to Memory Loss in Those 45 and Older

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aGDh1hu6N3Xk

Association of higher diastolic blood pressure levels with cognitive impairment

http://intl.neurology.org/cgi/content/abstract/73/8/589

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