Want to Support Brain Health? Control Blood Pressure

A woman getting her blood pressure checked at a doctor's office
FatCamera/Getty Images

Find out more about the connection between high blood pressure and brain health, including information about dealing with the condition, in the full article

Most people know that high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks and strokes — two very good reasons to control it. But here’s another equally important reason: Treating high blood pressure may reduce your risk of a decline in memory and thinking skills or dementia.

Studies that followed large groups of adults found that high blood pressure in middle age in particular was linked to worsening performance on mental-skills tests as people grew older.

Living longer with uncontrolled high blood pressure is the reason. “The effect of high blood pressure on the brain is cumulative. The longer you have high blood pressure, the greater the damage it does over time,” American Heart Association President Mitchell Elkind said in an interview.

Find out more about how a Healthy Lifestyle May Help Slow Mental Decline

A professor of neurology and epidemiology at Columbia University, Elkind said researchers have known for several years “that high blood pressure is linked to cognitive decline. We can see changes in thinking ability as measured by test scores over time, as well as dementia.”

But research suggests that treating the condition — with lifestyle changes, such as exercise and diet, and with medication, if necessary — can help stave off mental decline. More than 100 million Americans have high blood pressure, yet only about 1 in 4 have the condition under control.

Find out more about the connection between high blood pressure and brain health, including information about dealing with the condition, in the full article, "How Controlling Blood Pressure May Help Support Brain Health."

This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide any expert, professional or specialty advice or recommendations. Readers are urged to consult with their medical providers for all questions.

Search AARP Blogs