We all know the effects of high blood pressure on the body that leads to health issues such as diabetes, stroke, dementia, and variable cardiac diseases. Now, high blood pressure can also cause cognitive decline, suggests a new study.
People above the age of 55 years with untreated high blood pressure have a rapid rate of cognitive decline, compared with those on treatment and who did not have the condition, said a Columbia University study.
The study was later presented at an American Heart Association session to explore the link between brain health and hypertension.
Blood pressure is the force generated by the heart to propel oxygen-rich blood to all parts of the body. The blood pumped by the heart is distributed to the body parts through arteries.
The research assessed data on 11,000 people above 55 years of age from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study conducted between 2011 and 2015 and interviewed the participants about their hypertension treatment and education level.
They were also asked to perform cognitive tests such as memory quizzes.
A hypertension condition for a participant was defined as having a systolic bp of 140 mmHg or higher and a diastolic bp of 90 mmHg or higher.
The researchers also found that those who did receive blood pressure treatment and did not have hypertension at all had a similar rate of cognitive decline, a much lesser rate than those under treatment for the condition.
"The study focused on middle-aged and older adults in China. However, we believe our results could apply to populations elsewhere as well," a statement from co-author Shumin Riu said.
"We need to better understand how high blood pressure treatments may protect against cognitive decline and look at how high blood pressure and cognitive decline are occurring together," Riu added.
According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure is a global health threat and affects about one billion people globally. The findings are particularly important because hypertension and cognitive decline are two of the most common conditions associated with aging.
Cognitive impairment – decline in the ability to think, remember, and reason – is often seen in aged people. The condition can result from blocked blood flow to the brain as high blood pressure damages arteries.