Women's Heart Advisor April 2010 Issue

High Blood Pressure May Increase Risk of Dementia in Older Women

Controlling vascular problems now could extend brain health for many years.

Consistently high blood pressure (hypertension) damages the arteries in the heart and kidneys, increasing the risk of heart attack and kidney failure. The same process also damages the small arteries in the brain, which may cause dementia. In a recent study of 1,424 women, MRI scans revealed significantly more white matter lesions in the brains of women with high blood pressure (BP)—indicating areas of damage—than in those with normal blood pressure.

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