Blood flow to the parts of the brain that support memory function differs between people with high blood pressure and those with normal blood pressure, and this difference seems to increase when high blood pressure is treated with medications, researchers reported today at the American Heart Associations 61st Annual Fall Conference of the Council for High Blood Pressure Research.
It does not mean that those with high blood pressure were remembering significantly less; rather, the brain areas acting together during memory required more blood flow to remember the same things as people who did not have high blood pressure in the study, said lead author J. Richard Jennings, Ph.D.
In a previous study, Jennings and colleagues found that people with hypertension differed from those without hypertension in the amount of brain tissue activated during memory tasks.
In this study we wanted to find out if treating people for high blood pressure would change that pattern of activation, said Jennings, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pittsburgh, Pa.
The researchers assessed the brain blood flow of 28 adults with untreated hypertension while they were doing a memory task. The researchers then randomly divided the subjects into two hypertension treatment groups. Half received the angiotension-converting enzyme inhibitor lisinopril; the other half received the beta-blocker atenolol. Subjects took the medication for a year before researchers tested them in the same way, again monitoring their blood flow to the brain as they did the memory task.
Jennings and colleagues were surprised to find that taking either antihypertensive medication actually increased the inefficiency of the brains work during memory. He explained that, when doing memory tasks, four areas of the brain become active in different ways: the thalamus, posterior parietal, prefrontal area and hippocampus.
In the first stud
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American Heart Association