High blood pressure in middle age may cause this dementia later

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In a new study published in PNAS, researchers found high blood pressure that leads to vascular dementia in older adults begins to impact the brain by middle age.

But in some middle-aged individuals with this damage, their brains reorganize to bypass the damage and enhance communication between brain cells. And these people did better on tasks related to cognitive function.

The study is from Northwestern Medicine. One author is Farzaneh Sorond, MD, Ph.D.

Not everyone is affected equally by damage to their brain’s white matter as they age.

In the study, the scientists observed 600 individuals with, the average age of 55.5 in an fMRI.

All had vascular risk factors and were at risk for vascular dementia in late life but currently had a normal cognitive function.

The team looked at the executive function region of their brains, which is one of the first regions affected as people develop age-related white matter injury. This region of the brain is key to working memory and controls planning and decision-making.

One form of brain injury from hypertension appears as white splotches, referred to as white matter hyperintensities, on brain fMRIs.

While participants were resting in the fMRI, scientists measured the level of oxygenation across the entire brain. As the brain works, it increases and decreases oxygen in a synchronized manner.

The synchronization was enhanced in the people whose brains had redistributed paths to the brain’s executive function region and were able to compensate for the white matter injury.

The increased synchronization in the brain means communication is improved, the team says.

Next, the participants were given a series of tasks that tested their executive function.

Those individuals whose brains had shown increased connectivity and rerouted brain networks performed better on the tasks than those whose brains did not.

The team says the findings suggest some people’s brains appear to compensate by rerouting communication in the brain networks to improve messaging.

If doctors can develop a treatment to produce this plasticity in an older person’s brain, they might be able to improve their cognition and mobility.

If you care about blood pressure, please read studies about dropping blood pressure may predict frailty, falls in older people and findings of this painkiller could cause blood pressure drop.

For more information about high blood pressure, please see recent studies about most diets could lead to weight loss and lower blood pressure, but the effects last only 1 year and results showing that how to accurately check your blood pressure at home.

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