-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) -- High blood pressure can
damage the structure of the brain in people as young as 40, a new
Structural damage was found even in the brains of young
middle-aged people who had pre-hypertension, in which blood
pressure is elevated but not to the level considered to be high
Researchers looked at nearly 600 people who were an average of
39 years old when the study was launched in 2009. Their blood
pressure was checked and they underwent MRI brain scans.
Accelerated brain aging was found in people with hypertension as
well as those with pre-hypertension, including damage to the
structural integrity of white matter and the volume of grey
The study is the first to find that elevated blood pressure
damages the brains of young middle-aged adults and suggests that
blood-pressure-related brain damage occurs over a lifetime, the
Previous research has linked blood-pressure-related damage to
the brain's white matter with mental decline in older people, the
study authors noted.
"The message here is really clear: People can influence their late-life brain health by knowing and treating their blood pressure at a young age, when you wouldn't necessarily be thinking about it," study senior author Charles DeCarli, professor of neurology and director of the Alzheimer's Disease Center at the University of California, Davis, said in a university news release.
The study was published online Oct. 31 in
The Lancet Neurology, and appears in the December print
issue of the journal.
Elevated blood pressure, which affects about 50 million
Americans, is associated with an increased risk of stroke and
cardiovascular disease and is the single greatest risk factor for
death in the United States.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more
high blood pressure.
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