You must know that high blood pressure is linked to the risk of cardiovascular disorders and stroke. But did you know it could also potentially impair your cognitive functioning? A recent study has found that people diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension) and deformity in the brain’s periventricular white matter showed cognitive impairment signs despite taking blood pressure medications.
Researchers have associated excessive blood pressure levels with an increased risk of dementia. However, the kinds of negative subtle changes in the brain those are likely to affect one’s cognitive functional ability still remains unclear. Looking for ways to reveal insignificant cognitive impairment can help to determine who is prone to early-stage dementia.
Results of the Study
A study was conducted on 345 participants with high blood pressure – including male and female – with an average of 65. Patients, who underwent imaging scans for the brain, were tested in areas of cognitive functioning, including memory, attention, and execution for a particular period.
During the follow-up, average blood pressure was 144.5/76.5mmHg. Researchers examined the white matter to understand the functioning of the brain. The white matter is vital because it connects various parts of the brain.
Researchers specifically looked at the periventricular white matter that is situated right in the central part of the brain, acting as a bridge between the distant regions of the brain and serving an important role in cognitive function. Abnormalities and lesions found in the periventricular white matter could indicate cognitive impairment.
During the research study, 9% of the total participants were seen to have mild cognitive impairment. The study also showed a connection between the changes in periventricular white matter and the risk of mild cognitive impairment. Researchers found that patients with a progression of periventricular white matter abnormalities were six times more likely to experience a decline in their cognitive functioning.
Although the development of brain lesions may not exhibit symptoms, the risk of more serious forms of cognitive decline may increase, if treatment is not received.
The Bottom Line
As researchers state, your brain is exposed to a greater volume of blood flow and is vulnerable to elevated levels of blood pressure – this might be happening with or without symptoms, and can possibly lead to complications. Therefore, work towards managing your blood pressure by following a DASH diet, exercising, and taking medications regularly. Even if you observe a slight improvement in your blood pressure levels, do follow up with your doctor on regular intervals.