High BP in women may cause dementia in later life

Washington, Jan 16 (Inditop.com) Women with high blood pressure (BP) may be at a greater risk of dementia later in life, says a new finding in the US.

“Hypertension is very common in the US and many other countries and can lead to serious health problems,” said Lewis Kuller, professor of epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

“Proper control of blood pressure, which remains generally poor, may be very important to prevent dementia as women age,” added Kuller.

The study, part of the multisite and long-term Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS), included 1,424 women 65 years or older who had their blood pressure assessed annually and underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain.

Researchers assessed white matter lesions, which are associated with increased risks for dementia and stroke. White matter makes up 60 percent of the brain and contains nerve fibres responsible for communication among the brain’s regions.

Women who, at the start of the study, were hypertensive, meaning a BP of 140/90 or higher, had significantly more white matter lesions on their MRI scans eight years later than participants with normal BP.

Lesions were more common in the frontal lobe, the brain’s emotional control centre and home to personality, than in the occipital, parietal or temporal lobes, says a Pittsburg release.

“Women should be encouraged to control high blood pressure when they are young or in middle-age in order to prevent serious problems later on,” said Kuller.

The study was published online in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension.