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At-Home Blood Pressure Readings Might Help Track Ailing Brain: Study
Date:11/21/2011

MONDAY, Nov. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Measuring older people's blood pressure as they go about their normal activities throughout the day can also help reveal problems that affect the brain, a small, new study says.

But this isn't possible using clinical blood pressure readings taken in a doctor's office or other health care setting.

So-called "ambulatory" blood pressure is measured using a special portable device that monitors blood pressure at regular intervals while patients go about their daily activities.

In the new study, researchers compared changes in blood pressure and the volume of "white matter hyperintensities" -- lesions that are a sign of small vessel brain damage -- in the brains of 72 people, average age 82, at the start of the study and again two years later.

Previous studies have shown that white matter hyperintensities, which can be detected using MRI, are associated with a reduction in memory and thinking skills, known as cognitive decline. Along with looking for white matter hyperintensities, the researchers assessed the participants' cognitive ability and physical mobility over the two years.

The study found that a worsening in ambulatory blood pressure was associated with an increase in the brain lesions and a decrease in cognitive function and physical mobility. There was no association between white matter hyperintensities and clinical blood pressure readings, according to the findings published in the current issue of the journal Circulation.

"This study showed for the first time in an older population that blood pressure measured over a 24-hour period was associated with the progression of vascular brain disease, whereas the typical office blood pressure was not," senior author Dr. William B. White, a professor of hypertension and clinical pharmacology in the Calhoun Cardiology Center at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in Farmington, said in a new
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