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High blood pressure and diabetes impair brain function, study suggests

The conditions appeared to cause structural changes that harmed memory and thinking

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High blood pressure and diabetes bring about brain changes that impair thinking and memory, research suggests.

Doctors examined brain scans and medical data from 22,000 volunteers enrolled in the UK Biobank project and found significant structural changes in the grey and white matter among those with diabetes and high blood pressure.

The same individuals tended to fare worse on cognitive tests that measured their thinking speed and short-term memory, raising the possibility that the medical conditions were driving mental decline.

“Remarkably, the findings show that it is possible to detect the negative effect of cardiovascular risk factors, such as raised blood pressure and diabetes, on cognitive function and brain structure in otherwise healthy people,” said Masud Husain, a professor of neurology and cognitive neuroscience at the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences at Oxford University.

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