Alzheimer's Disease Linked to High Blood Pressure

By Christian Goodman

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, refers to a condition in which the blood circulates through the arteries with too much force. The American Heart Association estimates that high blood pressure affects 73 million Americans, or one in three adults. Hypertension also affects approximately two million children and teenagers in the United States. Several factors may contribute to high blood pressure, including genetics, high salt intake, and hardening of the arteries.

High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and aneurysm. Additionally, a recent study found that hypertension may contribute to Alzheimer's disease by decreasing blood flow to the brain.

Co-author of the study Dr. Cyrus Raji of the University of Pittsburgh explained, "While hypertension is not a cause of Alzheimer's disease, our study shows that it is another hit on the brain that increases its vulnerability to the effects of the disease."

In the study, researchers utilized a form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure blood flow to the brain. They found that hypertension significantly reduced blood flow to the brain for all patients in the study. Participants who suffered from hypertension as well as Alzheimer's disease had the least cerebral blood flow, or flow of blood to the brain.

Co-author Dr. Oscar Lopez, also of the University of Pittsburgh said "This study demonstrates that good vascular health is also good for the brain,". "Even in people with Alzheimer's disease, it is important to detect and aggressively treat hypertension and also focus on disease prevention."

Dr. Raji added, "These results suggest that by changing blood flow to the brain, hypertension - treated or untreated - may contribute to the pathology of Alzheimer's."

While high blood pressure may not necessarily lead to Alzheimer's disease, it definitely makes the brain more vulnerable to Alzheimer's disease as well as mild cognitive impairment that may affect memory, language, attention, and reasoning.

All too often, individuals living in the conveniences of modern society attribute diseases like Alzheimer's and hypertension to old age. In the majority of cases, these diseases are persuaded more by lifestyle and environment. By taking care of yourself, you can age gracefully and prevent those "diseases of old age."

Start with a healthy diet. Most Americans consume way too much fat and sodium. Attempt to eat less meat and more fresh fruits and vegetables. If you salt your food, use only a small amount. You may be amazed to learn that the saltshaker is not the main source of sodium. Processed food is the primary source of dietary sodium. Even some "health foods" and "low-sodium foods" have particularity high levels of sodium. Read the labels. To be safe, stay away from processed foods altogether. You may have to spend a little more time to prepare your own whole foods at home, but your health (and your family's health) is worth it.

Regular exercise is another key component in healthy, natural living. Your must regularly exercise your mind, body, and spirit to avoid atrophy. "Use it or lose it," as the saying goes. You don't have to join an expensive gym or spend hours a week doing grueling exercises. You just have to exercise wisely. To learn more about protecting your cardiovascular system and your brain so that you can enjoy a long, healthy life, see high blood pressure exercises and Alzheimer's prevention exercises.

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