High blood pressure later in life linked to Alzheimer’s risk

11 July 2018

Journal of Neurology: Late-life blood pressure association with cerebrovascular and Alzheimer disease pathology

A new study by researchers in the US suggests that having high blood pressure later in life may affect the brain, resulting in brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. The research is published today (Wednesday 11 July) in the Journal of The American Academy of Neurology.

Dr Sara Imarisio, Head of Research of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“This study found people who had high blood pressure in later life were more likely to show signs of damage in the brain. Unsurprisingly, high blood pressure was most strongly associated with problems with the blood supply to the brain, although the study also provides some evidence linking high blood pressure to a key protein involved in Alzheimer’s disease. This study didn’t look specifically at people with dementia although previous evidence has linked high blood pressure to a greater risk of the condition.

“This research focussed on blood pressure changes in the last eight years of people’s lives, but we don’t know whether this is the period in which they would have sustained the most damage to the brain. Previous studies have identified mid-life as a particularly important time in which to take action to support brain health and controlling blood pressure throughout life is important for many aspects of health.

“As well as maintaining a healthy blood pressure, there are other steps people can take to help reduce their risk of dementia. The best existing evidence suggests that not smoking, only drinking in moderation, staying mentally and physically active, eating a balanced diet, and keeping cholesterol levels in check can all help to keep our brains healthy as we age.”