High blood pressure at any age, no matter how long you have it, may speed cognitive decline – AHA

Research Highlights:

  • Memory, concentration and other cognitive functions decline faster among middle-aged and older adults who have high blood pressure than those who do not.  
  • Even seemingly slight blood pressure elevation during middle and older age is linked to a faster decline in cognition.
  • Controlling high blood pressure slows the speed of cognitive decline.
  • The length of time, or duration, of high blood pressure does not appear to accelerate cognitive decline.

High blood pressure appears to accelerate a decline in cognitive performance in middle-aged and older adults, according to new research published in Hypertension, an American Heart Association (AHA) journal.

Nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure or hypertension. Having high blood pressure is a risk factor for cognitive decline, which includes such things as memory, verbal fluency, attention and concentration. Blood pressure of 120 mmHg – 129 mmHg systolic (the top number in a reading) or higher is considered elevated. Systolic pressure above 130 mmHg, or diastolic pressure (the bottom number) of 80 mmHg or higher is considered hypertension.

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