Hypertension tied to Alzheimer’s
High blood pressure can hurt the brain as well as the heart. That’s the finding of a team of U.S. scientists who monitored the blood pressure of nearly 1,300 volunteers, all over age 65, and conducted brain autopsies when participants died, on average eight years after they enrolled in the study. Volunteers with high blood pressure were found to have more infarcts, or small areas of dead brain tissue that increase the risk for stroke and vascular dementia—mental decline caused by reduced blood flow to the brain. “The higher the average blood pressure, the more likely a person was to have brain lesions,” study lead author Zoe Arvanitakis tells CNN.com. High blood pressure was also associated with more tangles of the protein tau in the brain, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s, but not more amyloid plaques, another key feature of the disease. Still, the findings add to mounting evidence that managing high blood pressure could have a protective effect on the aging brain.