Control high blood pressure to protect memory and thinking skills

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Published: March, 2021

Here's more incentive to keep your blood pressure under control: a large study published online Dec. 14, 2020, by the journal Hypertension suggests that high blood pressure hastens decline in cognitive abilities (thinking skills). Researchers analyzed two health assessments, taken about four years apart, of more than 7,000 middle-aged and older people in Brazil. The assessments noted changes in a number of cognitive skills, such as memory, language, and concentration. Regardless of age, people with high blood pressure had faster declines in cognitive performance, compared with people who had normal blood pressure. The researchers classified blood pressure as high if the top number was 130 or higher and the bottom number was 80 or higher. But even people with a top number between 120 and 130 experienced faster cognitive decline than people with normal blood pressure. The silver lining: the researchers found that treating high blood pressure at any age appeared to reduce or prevent accelerated cognitive decline. High blood pressure can be controlled with medications as well as pill-free approaches, such as losing weight, exercising, eating a heart-healthy diet, reducing alcohol intake, managing stress, and quitting smoking.

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