High Blood Pressure May Increase Risk Of Dementia

There's a new reason to watch your blood pressure -- it might help save you from dementia.

New research suggests that hypertension may cause a kind of scarring that interferes with communication between brain cells. That scarring, known as white matter lesions, has been linked to development of Alzheimer's and other dementias later in life.

Researchers have found an increase in white matter lesions with each 20-point jump in systolic pressure above the recommended limit. Systolic pressure is the bigger of the two numbers.

The evidence is strong enough that the National Institutes of Health will soon begin enrolling thousands of people with hypertension into a major study. The aim will be to see if pushing blood pressure lower than currently recommended might better protect not just hearts, but brains


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