According to a study published in Hypertension, taking steps to prevent high blood pressure at a younger age is extremely important for reducing your risk for dementia as you age. 

Taking care of your health at any age typically means getting regular exercise and eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, but there's something younger adults should be especially mindful of: their blood pressure levels. A recent study highlighted by CNN and published in Hypertension, a journal from the American Heart Association noted that young adults diagnosed with high pressure were more likely to later be diagnosed with dementia compared to their peers with normal pressure. The results suggest that taking steps early on in life to prevent high blood pressure may reduce the risk of dementia

The researchers' analysis was based on data in the UK Biobank, a database that contains health information from half a million anonymous participants. Researchers compared magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of two specific adult groups. They analyzed the brain volume of 11,399 people with high blood pressure who were aged 55 years and younger as well as 11,399 people without high blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension. Their analysis showed that young adults diagnosed with hypertension had smaller brains when compared to people of the same age without hypertension. The group with the smallest brain size was individuals diagnosed with hypertension prior to age 35. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, high blood pressure is a common condition in which long-term force of the blood against your artery walls can cause health concerns, such as heart disease and dementia. Individuals can have high blood pressure without displaying symptoms, but some reported symptoms in prolonged cases of hypertension include headaches, shortness of breath, and nosebleeds. 

Woman Taking Young Woman's Blood Pressure Reading
Credit: Dean Mitchell/Getty Images

Senior study author and professor of ophthalmic epidemiology at the University of Melbourne in Australia, Dr. Mingguang He, said little is known about how the age of when high blood pressure is diagnosed affects associations between brain health and dementia later in life. "If this is proven, it would provide some important evidence to suggest earlier intervention to delay the onset of hypertension, which may, in turn, be beneficial in preventing dementia," he said.

The results of the study are further proof that focusing on brain health at every age is important, and taking steps to help ward off common diseases, such as hypertension and dementia, as early as possible is key. Exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, remaining socially active, and getting plenty of sleep are all ways to promote brain health and reduce risk factors for dementia.


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