High blood pressure damages specific brain regions, may cause cognitive decline

Credit: Unsplash+

In a recent study, researchers identified specific brain areas that are damaged by high blood pressure, potentially leading to cognitive decline and dementia.

Although high blood pressure has been associated with brain dysfunction, the exact regions of the brain affected have remained unclear until now.

The Methodology

The study used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), genetic analyses, and observational data from thousands of patients to explore the impact of high blood pressure on cognitive function.

The researchers discovered that areas such as the putamen and particular white matter regions suffered damage due to increases in blood pressure, leading to memory loss, impaired thinking skills, and dementia.

By using genetic information and a technique known as Mendelian randomization, the team ascertained whether high blood pressure was the cause of changes in specific brain areas rather than merely associated with these changes.

The Findings

Changes in nine brain areas, including the putamen and regions of white matter that connect and facilitate signaling between different brain parts, were linked to higher blood pressure and decreased cognitive function.

These alterations involved reductions in brain volume, modifications to connections between different brain areas, and changes in brain activity measures.

Approximately 30% of the global population is affected by high blood pressure, with another 30% showing initial stages of the condition.

The Significance and Future Work

The findings provide potential avenues for treating cognitive impairment in people with high blood pressure by investigating the genes and proteins in these brain structures.

This research could help predict who might experience more rapid memory loss and dementia in the context of high blood pressure.

Despite the promising findings, the study’s limitation is that the UK Biobank participants were predominantly white and middle-aged.

Consequently, it may not be possible to generalize these results to older individuals. Future studies are required to pinpoint precise causal pathways and relevant brain areas.

Conclusions and Implications

The study’s insights into high blood pressure’s damaging effects on the brain underscore the importance of identifying those at risk of cognitive decline as early as possible.

Offering hope for new therapeutic developments, this research is valuable for those affected by cognitive impairment linked to high blood pressure.

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a condition where the force of blood against the artery walls is persistently too high.

The condition can lead to serious health complications like heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and cognitive impairment.

Regular blood pressure checks are recommended for all adults, particularly those with risk factors for hypertension.

The study, led by Tomasz J Guzik, was published in the European Heart Journal.

If you care about blood pressure, please read studies about unhealthy habits that could increase high blood pressure risk, and people with severe high blood pressure should reduce coffee intake.

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.