There’s new evidence that high diastolic blood pressure readings may be associated with memory problems. Here’s what you need to know.
If you don’t remember things as well as you used to, don’t blame it on old age. It may be your blood pressure. A study published the journal Neurology shows that problems remembering may be related to high diastolic blood pressure readings, further emphasizing the importance of treating high blood pressure in a timely manner.
Blood Pressure and Problems Remembering: The Study
This study looked at almost twenty thousand people age forty-five and over, almost half of whom were taking medication to treat high blood pressure. They found that those who had high diastolic blood pressure readings were more likely to have cognitive deficits and problems remembering relative to those with normal diastolic blood pressure.
What Is Diastolic Blood Pressure?
Diastolic blood pressure is the force in the arteries when the heart is relaxed and resting between beats, while systolic blood pressure is the pressure when the heart is actively pumping blood. Hypertension is present when the diastolic blood pressure is consistently above 90 and the systolic pressure above 140.
What’s the Association?
The researchers believe that elevated pressure in the arteries that nourish the brain may cause the vessels to gradually weaken causing focal areas of brain damage that could lead to cognitive decline and problems remembering. They also believe that these areas of damage may be a harbinger to more serious brain related problems such as dementia, particularly if the hypertension goes untreated. A study published in 2007 showed a correlation between hypertension and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s believed that untreated hypertension makes the brain more prone to developing Alzheimer’s type dementia.
Researchers involved in this study emphasized that more studies are needed before a cause and effect relationship can be established between high diastolic blood pressure readings and problems remembering. They also want to know if lowering diastolic blood pressure through the use of medications can prevent memory related problems and dementia.
The Bottom Line
Hypertension has an impact on every organ in the body including the brain. The importance of getting high blood pressure under control can’t be overemphasized. Although more studies are needed to prove a causal relationship between high diastolic blood pressure readings and memory problems, there’s no doubt that hypertension has a negative impact on the body as a whole. Make it a priority to get your blood pressure checked regularly.