High blood pressure can lead to many things including a brain injury and even to premature aging of the brain and that includes people who only have a slightly elevated reading.
Alzheimer’s Disease Center scientists at UC Davis are currently studying links between systolic blood pressure and indicators of different brain injury amongst adults who are middle age. Systolic blood pressure is the first of the two numbers in the reading and measures how much pressure the blood has on vessels as the heart beats.
The scientists, in their latest report, said there is a negative, subtle effect from high systolic blood pressure in white matter structural integrity of the brain and another negative effect that is similar for elevated blood pressure on the amount of grey matter inside the brain.
What that means is that by 40, a person’s brain that has hypertension or high blood pressure of at least 140/90 mm Hg. looks older by 7.2 years than the brain of an individual who has normal blood pressure. That is according to indicators of anatomy and brain function that were measured by the researchers.
Not only do those people with hypertension have to be worried, even people with normal readings for blood pressure or those with a slightly higher systolic reading had slight structural changes in the brain. It seems that the higher a person’s systolic pressure the more signs appear of brain damage.
These latest findings are in line with research done previously that linked hypertension to having brain damage. However, the recent study is the
first that shows a link that begins early in an individual’s life. The study finds similar types of structural brain injuries that are tied to a decline in cognitive abilities and a higher risk of dementia in the elderly, but in people who are only 30 to 40 years of age.