A number of studies have shown a link between dementia and high blood pressure (hypertension) – a chronic condition that causes progressive organ damage if uncontrolled. Now, new research suggests that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans may be able to detect early signs of neurological damage in people with high blood pressure before dementia symptoms develop. These findings are significant because it’s often too late to reverse progression of the disease if dementia treatment isn’t started until after cognitive symptoms develop
For the new study, researchers recruited people ages 40 to 65 from the Regional Excellence Hypertension Center of the Italian Society of Hypertension. Study participants, who had no prior signs of neurological impairment and no diagnoses of dementia, underwent MRI scans to identify structural brain damage and clinical examinations to evaluate blood pressure and overall health.
According to the researchers, study participants with high blood pressure showed significant changes in three specific areas of brain white matter and scored significantly worse on cognitive tests associated with these areas, including memory and learning. This damage was undetectable with standard neuroimaging.
Sourced from: Cardiovascular Research
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