The more blood pressure rises, even when we are young, the more our brain ages. It is estimated that one blood pressure point higher than the values considered optimal means that our brain becomes one week older. It is therefore necessary to start to keep blood pressure under control from the age of 20 and to implement diet, lifestyle and remedies to avoid an increase in blood pressure values. These are the results of a very recent and very fascinating study published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience by a team from the Australian National University of Canberra (Cherbuin et al, Front. Aging Neurosci., Oct 2021).
Blood pressure and the brain
High blood pressure values are a health risk and pave the way for various diseases, such as heart attacks or strokes. But hypertension is also a risk factor for dementia. However, to date, it has not yet been possible to understand at what age high blood pressure values start to have an impact on brain health. To answer this question, the scientists of the research we are talking about today have developed a large study.
Optimal blood pressure values slow brain aging
More than 900 people were recruited, divided between middle-aged people between 44 and 46 years and older between 60 and 64 years. All the volunteers presented themselves at the start of the study in good physical and mental health. Over a 12-year period, the volunteers were followed by researchers, who assessed their blood pressure and brain health. The latter was measured through magnetic resonance tests and the application of an algorithm that compared thousands of brain images with those obtained during the experiment. What emerged is that the brain age is not the same as the chronological age and that a great role is played by blood pressure. Not only that, care must also be taken when blood pressure values are considered normal but slightly above the optimal values, as the slow work of blood pressure on the brain begins at an early age. In fact, the researchers observed that, in middle-aged people, one blood pressure point higher than the optimal values, set at 110/70, corresponds to an extra week of brain aging. It follows that those having pressure values considered to the limit but not yet cataloged as hypertension, such as 135/85, will have a brain six months older than those with optimal blood pressure values. Perhaps this may seem a little at first glance, since in the case of Alzheimer's you can have up to 7 years of older brains. However, it must be emphasized that what has been observed refers to people who are still young and that the action of the pressure on the brain is destined to increase. Not only that, if you add to this other risk factors, then the risk of developing dementia can, in the long run, increase.
So, how young our brain will be in the coming years depends on how we are now. This is why it is important to take care of ourselves and our health, with a healthy and varied diet and an active lifestyle, in order also to keep blood pressure under control and protect brain health.