Heart Disease


An article I read today had some disturbing information about hypertension and the effect it has on memory, verbal expression, and thinking (cognition) in general. The study focused on hypertension, both treated and untreated, prehypertension (BP 120/80 to 139/89), degree of blood pressure control, duration of high blood pressure, the age of the patient and how these conditions affected intellectual functioning.

The disturbing finding was that there was “global cognitive decline” (worsening of intellectual ability) in all patients with high blood pressure regardless of age of onset or duration of the condition.

Over 7000 patients participated. The mean age was 58.9 years. During each visit, standard tests of memory, “verbal fluency” (ability to speak clearly and understandably), and trail B tests (for visual attention, visual searching, and processing speed) were done. Patient BP was monitored from beginning to the end of the study period.

Those participants with hypertension and prehypertension had a decline in memory testing and a reduction in verbal fluency over the study period. Age was also a factor as those over 55 years old had lower global cognitive and memory test scores. Those under 55 had low memory test scores also.

“Adults with uncontrolled hypertension experienced faster declines in memory and global cognitive function than those who had controlled hypertension.” The rate of cognitive decline was not affected by whether hypertension began in middle or older ages.

These findings reinforced the principle that high blood pressure needs to be actively prevented, diagnosed at an early age, and treated aggressively to preserve cognitive function.

Dr. G’s Opinion: This is disturbing news for those with hypertension, myself included. High blood pressure is called “the silent killer” because it insidiously works to affect every part of our bodies. Memory and thinking are essential functions for maintaining normalcy in our daily lives. The mental decline can be devastating, and any measure to prevent it is worth the effort. I don’t have data on just how severe these declines were, but any decline is worth preventing. Good control of blood pressure has long been advocated for a lot of reasons, and these results lend more importance to that effort.

Reference: https://www.docwirenews.com/docwire-pick/cardiology-picks/high-blood-pressure.

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