According to scientists from the Alzheimer’s Disease Center at the University of California, Davis, high blood pressure may lead to brain injury and premature brain aging, even among people with only slightly raised blood pressure.
The researchers are investigating links between systolic blood pressure, and various indicators of brain injury among middle-aged adults. The latest report was published in Lancet Neurology, and it claims to have found a “subtle, negative effect” of high blood pressure and the structural integrity of the brain.
The conclusion drawn from the report is by the age of 40, the brain of a person with chronically raised blood pressure looks 7.2 years older than a subject with normal blood pressure. The measurable effect on the brain appears before symptoms of dementia. As Dr. Charles DeCarli, senior author of the study, stated, “The people in our study were cognitively normal, so a lack of [cognitive decline symptoms] doesn’t mean anything.”
This is just more evidence added to a quickly growing amount of data suggesting it is important to begin monitoring your blood pressure at an earlier age, and to stay in healthy shape. The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute estimates that two-thirds of Americans over 65 have high blood pressure. It is time to begin worrying about these issues before they cause problems, rather than once cognitive issues appear.