The Link Between Your Blood Pressure and Your Brain

You know high blood pressure isn't good for your heart, but it also may be a red flag for brain function as well.

A number of recent studies indicate that there is a relationship between high blood pressure and a higher risk for dementia and memory problems.

In the first, researchers looked at blood pressure and cognitive test data from nearly 20,000 men and women 45 years and older participating in the REGARDS (Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke) study.

The researchers found that people with diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number of a reading) of 90 or more were more likely to have thinking and memory problems than people with lower diastolic pressure. A rise of even 10 points in diastolic blood pressure was associated with a 7 percent rise in the likelihood that a participant would have cognitive problems.

A second study of about 1,400 women found a link between high blood pressure and lesions that are associated with dementia. Researchers found that the women with blood pressure of 140/90 or higher at the beginning of the study showed significantly more white matter lesions when scanned eight years later, compared to the women with normal blood pressure.

Researchers believe that high blood pressure – even slightly elevated – may damage small blood vessels in the brain, leading to damaged white matter. This damage, which shows up as lesions in scans, can lead to an increased risk of stroke, disability, and dementia.

In the third study, published in the British Medical Journal, researchers looked at data from nearly 820,000 Department of Veterans Affairs patients age 65 and older with cardiovascular disease. The researchers found that those who took certain types of blood pressure drugs had up to a 24 percent lower risk of dementia. And those who already were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease appeared to fare better if they took a certain type of blood pressure medication, including a nearly 50 percent lower chance of being admitted to a nursing home, and a 17 percent lower risk of death when compared to patients taking other cardiovascular disease drugs.

The lead researcher believes that by helping to lower blood pressure, the drugs may prevent the damage to blood vessels in the brain caused by high blood pressure. This may slow cognitive decline in people diagnosed with both dementia and Alzheimer's.

So what can you do to help keep your blood pressure under control, and also keep your brain healthy, even without medications?

• Exercise - Exercise keeps your blood pumping to the brain and strengthens blood vessels.
• Lose weight - Weight loss is associated with substantial reductions in blood pressure.
• Eat a Mediterranean Diet – The Mediterranean diet was found to be the only dietary pattern associated with a lower risk for heart disease. It also may help ward off mild cognitive impairment, sometimes called borderline dementia. Read more.
• Take Vitamin D and Fish Oil – Both have benefits for the cardiovascular system as well as mood and mental function. Read more. Read more.
• Take Vitamin C – This nutrient may protect against blood pressure increases, especially in young women. Read more.
• Eat Blueberries – A recent study indicates that blueberries may boost memory in older people with early memory problems.
• Drink Hibiscus Tea - Drinking this delicious beverage has been shown to significantly reduce blood pressure. Read more.
• Or, Drink Green Tea - Senior citizens that drink green tea have demonstrated increased mental abilities. . Read more.
• Take Supplements to Protect Cardiovascular System – Extracts from green tea, garlic, hawthorn berry, policosanol, grape seed and grape skin, and nutrients such as magnesium and L-arginine all help regulate blood pressure and keep blood vessels healthy. Read more. Cardiovascular Support contains all these nutrients, and others to protect your heart.
• Take Supplements to Support a Healthy Mind – In addition to the herbs ginseng, ginkgo and rosemary, there are derivatives such as vinpocetine, Huperzine A, and phosphatidylserine that play a role in supporting mental function. Read more. Find these and other nutrients in our Memory & Mental Support formula.

Take these steps to control your blood pressure, protect your brain, and live the abundant life you deserve.