Are you worried about memory decline? There may be something you can do to help prevent it: lower your blood pressure.
In recent years, research has focused on the link between blood pressure and cognitive decline. These include memory loss, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), dementia, and Alzheimer’s Disease. Unfortunately, there is no standard treatment for these types of mental decline. But there is hope. Recent studies have showed a strong connection between blood pressure and brain health.
100 million Americans have high blood pressure (that’s about half of all U.S. adults). Research shows that having a systolic blood pressure (the top number) over 130 by age 50 increases risk of dementia by 50%.
One study explores how high blood pressure affects the brain and how low blood pressure can prevent memory decline.
It was called the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (or SPRINT). It focused on lowering the blood pressure of older adults with elevated blood pressure. 4,683 participants received standard treatment while 4,678 participated in the intensive SPRINT treatment.
The trial lasted three years. Researchers followed-up after five years. Researchers found that the risk of dementia was 17% lower in the intensive treatment group. The risk of MCI was 19% lower. Those are statistics that are hard to ignore.
Not only did this treatment lower the risk of memory decline, it also healed damage caused by high blood pressure. As high blood pressure beats against blood vessels, it can cause damage to those vessels. This includes the blood vessels in the brain.
Dr. Jim Hendrix, PhD, the director of global science initiatives for the Alzheimer’s Association, explains these are like “little microstrokes” that cause lesions in the brain. They are clumps of tissue that aren’t working properly. However, the intense blood pressure treatment lowered these lesions in 450 participants.
Another study confirmed that blood flow in the brain is different for those with high blood pressure. Researchers gave memory tests to 37 people with high blood pressure and 59 with normal blood pressure. At the end of the tests, brain scans showed that participants with high blood pressure had less blood flow to areas in the brain that involved memory.
If you are concerned about your mental health and have high blood pressure, working to lower your blood pressure will help your brain and your heart. Here’s an article that gives simple steps to lower blood pressure.