Why intensively lowering blood pressure can benefit brain health

Credit: Unsplash+.

A recent study from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke suggests that intensive blood pressure treatment may lead to structural changes in the brain.

This can help it clear away toxins and other byproducts, potentially reducing the risk of developing dementia.

This is the first study to examine whether intensive blood pressure treatment can slow or reverse the volume of brain tissue taken up by perivascular spaces, the pathways around blood vessels used to clear toxins.

The researchers say that if the brain cannot properly clear toxins and metabolic byproducts, they will accumulate and may contribute to the development of dementia.

Previous research has proposed that the pulsations of the cerebral arteries with each heartbeat help to drive the clearance of these toxic brain byproducts in the perivascular spaces.

However, high blood pressure over the long term stiffens arteries, impairing function and the ability to clear toxins, resulting in the enlargement of perivascular spaces.

The study compared magnetic resonance imaging scans of the brains of 442 older people with high blood pressure who were given either intensive treatment (lowering systolic blood pressure to 120 mmHg) or standard treatment (lowering the systolic to 140 mmHg).

Brain scans were taken at the time of enrollment and after an average follow-up of 3.9 years.

As people age or have more cardiovascular risk factors, perivascular spaces in the brain can become enlarged, blocking the pathway so toxins don’t clear the brain.

The volume of brain tissue in these spaces was similar for both groups when the study began, but after nearly four years, the team found only the group given intensive blood pressure treatment saw a significant decrease in volume.

This suggests that aggressive treatment may reverse the effects of high blood pressure on these pathways.

The team says the next step is to determine how perivascular spaces relate to cognition and cognitive decline in the SPRINT-MIND trial.

The American Heart Association defines hypertension, or high blood pressure, as a systolic reading of 130 mmHg or higher or a diastolic reading of 80 mmHg or higher.

Hypertension is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and kidney failure. According to the World Health Organization, high blood pressure affects more than 1.4 billion people worldwide.

The findings of this study are important because dementia is a growing public health problem with no cure.

By identifying possible preventative measures, such as intensive blood pressure treatment, we can help reduce the risk of developing dementia and improve the quality of life for older individuals.

It is worth noting that blood pressure control is just one factor in reducing the risk of developing dementia. Other preventative measures include a healthy diet, regular exercise, and mental stimulation.

It is also important to manage other health conditions, such as diabetes and high cholesterol, which can contribute to the development of dementia.

If you are concerned about your blood pressure, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider.

They can provide guidance on lifestyle changes and medication that can help lower your blood pressure and reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, stroke, and dementia.

In conclusion, the findings of this study suggest that intensive blood pressure treatment may lead to structural changes in the brain that help it clear away toxins and other byproducts, potentially reducing the risk for dementia.

This underscores the importance of blood pressure control as a preventative measure for maintaining brain health and reducing the risk of developing dementia.

The study was conducted by Dr. Kyle Kern et al and presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference.

If you care about blood pressure, please read studies about unhealthy habits that could increase high blood pressure risk, and plant-based foods could benefit people with high blood pressure.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce dementia risk, and coconut oil could help improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s.

Copyright © 2023 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.