Many people may think that high blood pressure and stroke are diseases for older people, but a recent UK study suggests that higher than normal blood pressure (>120/80 mmHg) in your 40s & 50s significantly increases your changes of more extensive brain damage in your 60s and 70s. This suggestion is based on the information of 37.041 participants between 40 and 69 years old.

According to this study, if you are in your midlife, you need to pay particular attention to the lower number of your blood pressure (the diastolic blood pressure) to prevent brain damage later in life. This is because the connection between the brain damage and this number was found to be much stronger than with the higher number of blood pressure (the systolic blood pressure). On the other hand, control of the higher number of your blood pressure may be more important in your late life.

The brain damage, called “white matter hyperintensities”, has to do with a damage to the small blood vessels in the brain. This damage increases with age and with blood pressure and is linked to an increased risk of stroke, dementia, physical disabilities, depression and a decline in thinking abilities.

Researchers believe that any increase in blood pressure beyond the normal range can lead to a higher amount of “white matter hyperintensities”. It means that even slightly elevated blood pressure before it meets the criteria for treating from high blood pressure (hypertension, >140/90 mmHg) has a damaging effect on the brain.

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Tatsiana Haponava, PhD

a certified nutrition coach, educator and researcher with a PhD degree

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