High blood pressure can age the brain

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If you have high blood pressure, watch out. You may be putting your brain at risk even if you re under 40.
Even mildly elevated blood pressure put people at risk for changes in brain anatomy that are usually associated with declining mental function at later ages. These changes were detected on high-tech scans, according to a study published in The Lancet Neurology. A team led by Dr. Charles DeCarli of the University of California at Davis examined MRIs to assess the brain structures of 579 participants with a median age of 39. High systolic blood pressure was strongly associated with brain changes that could lead to memory problems, including possibly dementia and Alzheimer s. The brain integrity of a 40-year-old hypertensive individual corresponded to that of a 47-year-old normotensive (normal blood pressure) person, suggesting that high blood pressure ages the brain even more rapidly than had been suspected.
Our results suggest that subtle vascular brain injury develops insidiously during life, with discernible effects even in young adults, the authors write. These findings emphasize the need for early and optimum control of blood pressure.