Source | neurosciencenews.com
Source: European Society of Cardiology
Higher than normal blood pressure is linked to more extensive brain damage in the elderly, according to a new study published today (Thursday) in the European Heart Journal.
In particular, the study found that there was a strong association between diastolic blood pressure (the blood pressure between heart beats) before the age of 50 and brain damage in later life, even if the diastolic blood pressure was within what is normally considered to be a healthy range.
The findings come from a study of 37,041 participants enrolled in UK Biobank, a large group of people recruited from the general population aged between 40 and 69 years, and for whom medical information, including MRI brain scans was available.
The research, carried out by Dr Karolina Wartolowska, a clinical research fellow at the Centre for Prevention of Stroke and Dementia, University of Oxford, UK, looked for damage in the brain called “white matter hyperintensities” (WMH). These show up on MRI brain scans as brighter regions and they indicate damage to the small blood vessels in the brain that increases with age and blood pressure. WMH are associated with an increased risk of stroke, dementia, physical disabilities, depression and a decline in thinking abilities.
Dr Wartolowska said: “Not all people develop these changes as they age, but they are present in more than 50% of patients over the age of 65 and most people over the age of 80 even without high blood pressure, but it is more likely to develop with higher blood pressure and more likely to become severe.”