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Study: High Blood Pressure Treatment Reduces Cognitive Decline

Nearly half of all Americans have high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. (rawpixel/Pixabay)
Nearly half of all Americans have high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. (rawpixel/Pixabay)
September 9, 2019

SPOKANE, Wash. – A new study finds treating high blood pressure could slow the brain's decline as people age.

Columbia University researchers analyzed data from 11,000 adults in the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study. They found patients ages 55 and older with blood pressure above 140 over 90, who were treated for the condition, saw a slower rate of cognitive decline than those who weren't treated.

Dr. Kenneth Isaacs, regional medical director of neuroscience at Providence Spokane Neuroscience Institute, says these results make sense, considering the effects of high blood pressure.

"Hypertension causes disease, disorder, dysfunction of the blood vessels throughout the body and including the brain,” he points out. “This study supports that the damage there can be at least slowed or changed by treatment of blood pressure, reducing the injury to those blood vessels."

Isaacs says this is important research, considering nearly half of all Americans have high blood pressure.

He also notes that the American Heart Association defines high blood pressure as 130 over 80 and above.

Along with potential cognitive decline, Isaacs says unmanaged high blood pressure is the leading risk factor for stroke, and also a risk factor for heart disease, kidney failure, loss of eyesight and other conditions. He encourages people to find out their blood pressure.

"Today, commit to knowing your numbers,” he urges. “That's really the advice. If you're blood pressure's elevated above 130/80, make sure you see your primary care practitioner. It's important. It could save your life."

Getting exercise is one important way for folks to keep their blood pressure in a healthy range. Isaacs says the typical advice is to get at least 30 minutes of walking five times a week, although people should speak with their physician about what is appropriate.

One opportunity to get in exercise is the American Heart Association Heart and Stroke Walk in Spokane on Sept. 14, a 5 kilometer event that Isaacs is chairing. There also are walks in Tacoma on Oct. 5 and Seattle on Oct. 12.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA