Blood Pressure and Effects on the Brain

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, has reached epidemic levels in the United States. Recent statistics estimate that a whopping 75 million adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure. Once designated by a reading of 140 over 90, new guidelines released in November 2017 lowered the hypertension guidelines to 130 over 80, causing the number of American adults with high blood pressure to leap from 32% to almost 46% total.

The Impact Of Hypertension On Cognitive Functioning

When left untreated, hypertension can have a significant impact on a patient’s overall health profile. The unregulated force of blood flowing through the arteries and blood vessels can eventually impede a multitude of body functions. Heart disease, kidney damage, bone loss, vision impairment, and sexual dysfunction are just some of the main conditions and illnesses that can afflict people suffering from high blood pressure.

Hypertension can also have a negative impact on a patient’s brain health. Much like the rest of the body, the brain relies on a nourishing, consistent, blood supply to function and thrive. However, elevated blood pressure can impede the brain’s proper functioning, potentially causing a number of cognitive conditions such as:

Transient Ischemic Attack

Also known as TIA, a transient ischemic attack is a mini-stroke marked by an abbreviated disruption of blood supply to the brain. Often caused by a blood clot from hypertension, a TIA can be a warning sign of a pending full-on stroke.

Stroke

Uncontrolled hypertension can damage the brain’s blood vessels, eventually depriving the brain of vital nutrients and oxygen, which can lead to a stroke. Additionally, high blood pressure can form blood clots in the arteries connecting to the brain, which can also eventually lead to a stroke.

Mild Cognitive Impairment (CGI)

Blood deprivation and clogged blood vessels can also have a negative influence on cognitive function as well. Over time, not getting the oxygen and nutrients needed to function can cause a hypertension patient to suffer from Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Often found in older adult patients, MCI is often considered a precursor to more significant cognitive dysfunctions, and is marked by several cognitive decline symptoms including memory loss and a reduced ability to process data.

Dementia

Dementia is a serious brain disease that can be caused by a wide range of factors, such as head injury, stroke, and tumors. However, much like MCI, prolonged and consistent blood flow deprivation to the brain can eventually lead to a dementia diagnosis, which results in issues with memory, thinking, processing, speaking, movement, and even vision.

Are you concerned about how hypertension may impact your cognitive function? Contact our office today to schedule an appointment to discuss treatment options and lifestyle changes that may help reduce your risk of cognitive impairment.

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