Scientists are still unable to pinpoint the exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Despite that, there are several risk factors that have been mapped. One that we’ll look at today is high blood pressure.
Does this factor contribute to the development of memory conditions like Alzheimer’s? Let’s find out.
Is High Blood Pressure a Risk Factor for Alzheimer’s?
Increased blood pressure, also known as hypertension, occurs when the force of blood against the walls of arteries is too high. This happens when there is too much salt in the diet, not enough physical activity, smoking, or drinking too much alcohol.
This type of blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, which are two of the leading causes of death in the world.
According to a study done in 2015, higher blood pressure may also be a risk factor. The study found that people with increased blood pressure were more likely to develop dementia than those without.
What Does Hypertension Do to the Mind?
The strong flow of blood makes it into blood vessels. This damages these vessels, requiring them to work harder to pump blood throughout the body. The damage ultimately takes away efficiency.
If left unchecked, it will eventually damage and narrow the arteries. It will then lead to heart problems and strokes
A study done by Neurology looked into the brains of the elderly that had hypertension. Upon checking their brains, they found that there was an increased number of tangles and plaques due to strokes.
While this doesn’t exactly prove a causal link between the two, it does prove that hypertension increases the likelihood of these tangles and plaques from invading the brain and affecting the person.
A Warning Against Low Blood Pressure
While higher blood pressures seem to lead to, or at least increase the risk, of these mental conditions, going lower isn’t the answer.
A study a few years back showed that elderly people with lower than normal blood pressures were also at risk of having their brains’ memory and cognition affected.
Thus, low pressure is also dangerous and can lead to negative effects on the brain. Both high and low blood pressure bring about their own set of risks.
The goal is always to maintain a balance in the Goldilocks zone: not too high and not too low.
How to Control Blood Pressure?
Since both high and low blood pressures are risk factors, it’s important to take steps to control them.
Eat a Healthy Diet
This means eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and limiting salt, saturated fat, and sugar.
Get Regular Exercise
Exercise helps to lower blood pressure by making the heart stronger. The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activity per week.
Smoking damages the lining of blood vessels and makes them less flexible, which can lead to increased blood pressure.
Limit Alcohol Intake
Drinking too much alcohol can also increase blood pressure. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that men consume no more than two drinks per day and women consume no more than one drink per day.
Be Aware of the Risk Factors
Apart from blood pressure, one’s diet, smoking, and alcohol intake, there are many more risk factors that can contribute to these conditions. It is important to be aware of them and use this knowledge to circumvent them and the memory-problems down the line.
As we age, our risk of developing these conditions within our brains increases. This is because the longer we live, the more time we have to develop these conditions.
If you have a family member who is experiencing these conditions, you may be at an increased risk for developing these conditions yourself. This is especially true if the affected family member developed the condition at a young age.
While the link between head injuries and this condition is not fully understood, research has shown that there may be a connection between the two. One theory is that head injuries can cause a build-up of tau protein in the brain, which is one of the hallmark characteristics that cause memory loss and loss of coordination just to name a few.
Again, memories are precious. While memory loss comes for us sooner or later, it is important to do everything we can to hold on as long as possible. Preventing high blood pressure from developing Alzheimer’s will also help with many physical, mental, and social problems that are brought about.
Despite that, these conditions affect more people than we know. Be of service to those with these conditions by understanding the principles of first aid. This puts you in a position to help them if the need ever arises.
Learn more about first aid through CPR First Aid’s Liverpool course.