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High Blood Pressure May Increase Risk of Dementia

High blood pressure is a well-known risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but it may affect cognitive health as well. A recent study suggests that people with high blood pressure may be at a higher risk of developing dementia.


Participants in the study included people between the ages of 40 and 65. All of them were normotensive or hypertensive, and had no sign of structural damage and no diagnosis of dementia. The researchers conducted tests to determine hypertensive status, organ damage, and microstructural damage.


A specific battery of tests was administered to gain insights into the neurocognitive profile of the participants. The researchers found that people with hypertension had significant alterations in three white matter fiber-tracts. The damage was detectable by MRI but not detectable by conventional neuroimaging, suggesting that MRI could be a good way to diagnose dementia early.


The participants with hypertension also scored significantly worse in cognitive tests related to brain regions that are connected through these three white matter fiber-tracts. The tests included executive functions, processing speed, memory, and related learning tasks.


Researchers from IRCCS NeuroMed led the study. It was published on June 12, 2018, in Cardiovascular Research.

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