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Blood Pressure Later Leads to Cognitive Problems

Hypertension and uncontrolled high blood pressure are connected to more cognitive problems during a person’s old age according to a study published by the Neuropsychology. A higher risk factor// is encountered by people who suffer from hypertension, than those with blood pressure, where cognitive functions are concerned. As many as 60% of those who are over 60 years of age are affected by hypertension.

However, this ‘silent killer’ mostly goes undetected or inadequately treated, leaving nearly 40% of older hypertensive people with continued high readings in spite of undergoing treatment. As a result, the findings suggest that a substantial number of older people with uncontrolled hypertension will experience significant cognitive declines, especially because with age, hypertension becomes more common and harder to control.

Researchers at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Boston Healthcare System, Harvard Medical School and the Boston University School of Public Health looked at a group of men in the VA Normative Aging Study, a longitudinal study that started in 1963 and added neuropsychological tests in 1993.

In this smaller cross-sectional study, 357 men from the larger sample aged 67 years, lived in the community, didn't have dementia or other serious medical problems, and showed stable blood pressure over a three-year interval. Hypertension was defined as measuring 140/90 and higher.

They found that the older the men, the predictably lower their overall neuropsychological performance. However, older men in the sample with uncontrolled hypertension did significantly worse on specific tests of verbal fluency (generating words in a given category) and immediate recall of a word list (short-term memory).

The uncontrolled hypertensives' decrements on fluency were 2.4 times as great as for those with normal pressure, their decrement with immediate recall was 1.3 times as great. That means by the age of 80, men wi th uncontrolled hypertension could generate seven fewer words in a given category, and recall about one and a half fewer words on average, than the other 80-year-old men in the study.

The researchers speculate that high blood pressure somehow exacerbates the normal effects of age on the frontal lobes, making it even harder to quickly retrieve information such as words. (ANI)

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