Harvard Women's Health Watch

High blood pressure linked to more Alzheimer's plaque deposits

Keeping blood pressure under control might be one way to slow the formation of plaque deposits in the brain that are the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published this March in the journal JAMANeurology. This is especially true for people who have a genetic variant called apolipoprotein E4, which increases Alzheimer's risk. The study of almost 120 adults (ages 47 to 89) found that people with high blood pressure and this gene variant had more beta-amyloid plaques in their brain than those with just one—or none—of these risk factors. Participants with the highest blood pressure plus the gene mutation tended to have the most plaque in their brain.

More research is needed to determine exactly how blood pressure might influence Alzheimer's development. However, unlike genetic factors, high blood pressure is something you can control by eating a healthy diet, exercising, losing weight, and taking blood pressure medicines if your doctor recommends them.

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