Heart

High Blood Pressure May Decrease Cognition in Older Adults

While it is already known that high blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, new findings show that it may also cause a decline in cognition in older adults.

In a study published in the December issue of Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers compared the cognitive skills of 107 older adults with moderately high blood pressure, and 116 older adults with normal blood pressure. The average age of the participants was 76, and all participants were well-matched for other factors known to influence cognitive function, including age, education level, depressive disorder and psychotropic medication. The participants completed various tests to define their reaction time and long- and short-term memory abilities.

Researchers found that the participants with high blood pressure had problems with short- and long-term memory, and, on average, were ten % slower in reaction time than participants with normal blood pressure. They believe that, while the decline in cognition may be too mild to disrupt everyday function, it may increase the risk for developing dementia or impaired mental ability later.
Researchers believe that the results of this study show a link between high blood pressure and cognition, and speculate that treating high blood pressure may prevent dementia. The incidence of dementia doubles every five years, starting at 2.8 percent at ages 70 to 74, to 38.6 percent at ages 90 to 95.

While it is already known that high blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, new findings show that it may also cause a decline in cognition in older adults.

In a study published in the December issue of Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers compared the cognitive skills of 107 older adults with moderately high blood pressure, and 116 older adults with normal blood pressure. The average age of the participants was 76, and all participants were well-matched for other factors known to influence cognitive function, including age, education level, depressive disorder and psychotropic prescription medication without prescription. The participants completed various tests to define their reaction time and long- and short-term memory abilities.

Researchers found that the participants with high blood pressure had problems with short- and long-term memory, and, on average, were ten % slower in reaction time than participants with normal blood pressure. They believe that, while the decline in cognition may be too mild to disrupt everyday function, it may increase the risk for developing dementia or impaired mental ability later.

Researchers believe that the results of this study show a link between high blood pressure and cognition, and speculate that treating high blood pressure may prevent dementia. The incidence of dementia doubles every five years, starting at 2.8 percent at ages 70 to 74, to 38.6 percent at ages 90 to 95.