OCT 24, 2023 9:00 AM PDT

Fluctuating Blood Pressure Linked to Dementia and Heart Disease

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

A new study published in Cerebral Circulation – Cognition and Behavior has shown that fluctuations in blood pressure may increase the risk of developing dementia and vascular disease in older adults.

The study included 70 older adults who were 60 to 80 years old. None of the participants were diagnosed with dementia at the time of the study. During the study, the participants had their blood pressure monitored continuously for 24 hours, and they also had their blood pressure checked every morning and evening for an additional four days. Participants completed a cognitive test and had their arterial stiffness assessed, which is a major risk factor for vascular and cardiovascular disease. Low scores on cognitive tests can be an early sign of the development of dementia. The goal of the study was to better understand how variations in blood pressure are related to the development of dementia and heart disease.

The results of the study showed that high variations in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure were associated with poorer cognitive function. Higher short-term (24-hour) variation in blood pressure was associated with poorer attention and slower cognitive processing speed, while higher long-term variation was associated with poorer executive functioning. Higher systolic short-term variation in blood pressure was also linked to greater arterial stiffness.

The authors of the study noted that these results are important because people usually focus only on one blood pressure reading rather than paying attention to variations in blood pressure. Variations in blood pressure, while often ignored, appear to be linked to the development of both dementia and heart disease. This research indicates that blood pressure variation is an important indicator that should be monitored and treated in order to prevent heart disease and dementia.

Sources: Cerebral Circulation – Cognition and Behavior, Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
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