A new study revealed that dementia could be caused by high blood pressure. Dementia declines mental ability caused by brain disease or injury. Its symptoms include memory loss, abnormal behavior, depression, insomnia and so on. According to the study, women in their 40s with high blood pressure are more prone to dementia in later stages of their life.
The lead study author, Paola Gilsanz, a postdoctoral fellow at the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research in Oakland, clarified the earlier misconception. She stated that the new findings suggest that high blood pressure can start affecting brain health even earlier than what has been previously thought.
The study was conducted among 5600 patients at Kaiser Permanente Northern California Health Care System. Patients were tracked since 1996 to observe the long-term development of dementia. The study found that women in their 30s did not seem to have risk of dementia but, women in 40s with high blood pressure have some dementia risk. A few other associated factors include obesity, smoking and diabetes.
Keith Fargo, the Director of scientific programs and outreach for the Alzheimer’s Association, mentioned that a smooth cardiovascular system is the key to healthy brain. He commented, “The brain is a very metabolically active organ in the body. It requires an out-sized amount of oxygen and other nutrients. Because of that, there’s a very, very rich blood delivery system in the brain. Anything that happens to compromise that is going to compromise the overall health and function of the brain.”
This study also examined the risk of dementia due to high blood pressure among men in their 40s. The study showed that men don’t have similar kind of dementia risk from high blood pressure. Fargo, though he was not associated with the research, described that this risk-related difference is due to factors, such as genetic difference, lifestyle difference and sex-specific hormonal differences. Fargo pointed that long-term, continuous exposure to high blood pressure can lead to dementia. He added, “People think about dementia in late life, because that’s when it’s common to see the clinical symptoms. But everything that is setting you up for cognitive decline is occurring throughout your life.”