High blood pressure and brain disease can be deadly as well as prevented. Over 30 million people worldwide suffer from dementia and nearly 70 million people just in the U.S. have high blood pressure. Researchers at the American Heart Association have found that the two may be linked.
The American Heart Association (AHA) made a statement based off of observational research from previous studies that high blood pressure and brain disease may be correlated.
There have been other observational studies also trying to find a tie between the two, with their findings being similar. Dr. Costantino Iadecola, the chair of the writing committee, stated, “Many observational studies suggest treating hypertension may reduce the cognitive impact of high blood pressure, especially on vascular cognitive impairment, but observational studies are not designed to prove cause and effect.”
Some of the studies were spaced too far apart from the time the person was diagnosed with hypertension to the time they were diagnosed with cognitive issues. Years in between each of these moments made it difficult to pinpoint at what blood pressure level brain disease began.
The researchers did find some hopeful answers through clinical trials, but because the trials didn’t specifically study if high blood pressure affected cognition, they cannot make any official claims.
Iadecola followed up saying, “We know treating high blood pressure reduces the risk of heart diseases such as heart attacks, congestive heart failure, and stroke, and it is important to continue treating it to reduce the risks of these diseases. However, we need randomized controlled studies – which do prove cause and effect – to determine if treating high blood pressure, especially in middle age, will also decrease the risk of cognitive impairment later in life.”
There is a current study called the SPRINT-MIND trial, which is aiming to see if there is a correlation between the treatment of high blood pressure and cognitive issues. If the case can confirm that lowering blood pressure can help alleviate brain problems, then researchers around the world can have more to base their hypotheses on.
As previously mentioned, dementia affects about 30 to 40 million people worldwide. That number is expected to triple by 2050, meaning that research on the subject is extremely important.
Roughly 80% of cognitive issues are caused by vascular cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease–both of which have been tied to high blood pressure. That means high blood pressure and brain disease can be linked.
High blood pressure should be monitored individually to decrease the risk of heart or brain disease. Talk to your doctor about blood pressure management and what options are best and healthiest for you.