High Blood Pressure May Cause Dementia, Scientists Say

Scientists have long been aware of a worrying link between high blood pressure and the onset of dementia. But now, in a new study published in the European Heart Journal, researchers have mapped how high blood pressure affects specific regions of the brain, unearthing the best evidence yet that the two conditions are indeed connected. In fact, high blood pressure may even be a direct cause of brain dysfunction, they suggest. “Our study has, for the first time, identified specific places in the brain that are potentially causally associated with high blood pressure and cognitive impairment,” said study lead author Mateusz Siedlinski, a researcher at the Jagiellonian University Medical College, in a press release. Siedlinski and his team parsed through MRI brain scans paired with genetic data from over 30,000 patients in the UK Biobank medical database. By using Mendelian randomization, a technique that eliminates confounding factors by focusing on genes that could predispose a person to certain conditions, the team found that nine parts of the brain exhibited changes related to both higher blood pressures and a decline in cognitive function. To eliminate any room for doubt, the researchers then double-checked their findings with a separate batch of patients in Italy. “In our study, if a gene that causes high blood pressure is also linked to certain brain structures and their function, then it suggests that high blood pressure might really be causing brain dysfunction at that location, leading to problems with memory, thinking and dementia,” explained study co-author…High Blood Pressure May Cause Dementia, Scientists Say

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