There is a belief that high blood pressure in your 30s can lead to worse brain health in your 70s. This article examines this claim and the research involved.
What Does the Study Say?
According to a new study, treating high blood pressure in young and middle-aged adults can prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later in life. Researchers looked at brain scans of older adults with high blood pressure in their 30s. These were compared to older adults with normal blood pressure.
Those with high blood pressure had two key markers associated with dementia. These are worse white matter integrity and significantly lower regional brain volumes. Certain brain regions also had negative changes, including the decreased frontal cortex and gray matter volumes. Researchers said the differences might be connected to the benefits of estrogen before menopause.
What Do the Findings Mean?
According to Kristen George, an assistant professor of public health sciences at the University of California, treatment for dementia is extremely limited. She also said finding the modifiable risk and protective factors is key to reducing the disease burden. George said that high blood pressure is an incredibly common and treatable risk factor linked to dementia.
In a university press release, she said the study shows hypertension status in your early adulthood is important for brain health decades later.
How Was the Study Conducted?
Data used in the study came from 427 people who were part of aging studies conducted between 1964 and 1985. The participants included Black, Hispanic, Asian, and white individuals. Two blood pressure readings were taken when participants were between 30 and 40. This showed researchers if the patient’s blood pressure was high, heading toward high, or still normal.
By using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans done between 2017 and 2022, the team got information about the participant’s brain health. The scans of participants with high blood pressure or close to it had less frontal cortex and cerebral gray matter volume. They also had lower fractional anisotropy, a measure of brain connectivity.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 47% of American adults have high blood pressure. About half of the men and 44% of women have high blood pressure. According to the study, rates are highest in black adults (56%), followed by white adults (48%), Asian adults (46%), and Hispanic adults (39%).
Increased blood pressure can lead to brain damage in the future. You can contact your doctor and get recommendations on the best medications to keep your blood pressure low.