Having high blood pressure before middle age may pose a risk to brain health in later life.
According to a new study, the results of which are published in The Lancet Neurology, the “window of opportunity” to safeguard brain health runs from the mid-30s to the early-50s. And having high blood pressure in the 30s and 40s could lead to blood vessel damage and brain shrinkage.
For the study, a team of researchers from UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology followed 500 people born in 1946. Throughout the study, participants had their blood pressure measured and had brain scans.
The researchers found that blood pressure increases between the ages of 36 and 43 were linked to brain shrinkage. Moreover, blood pressure increases between 43 and 53 were associated with blood vessel damage or “mini strokes” when people reach their 70s.
Speaking about the findings of the research, Dr Carol Routledge, director of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, said: “High blood pressure in midlife is one of the strongest lifestyle risk factors for dementia, and one that is in our control to easily monitor and manage.
“Research is already suggesting that more aggressive treatment of high blood pressure in recent years could be improving the brain health of today's older generations.
“We must continue to build on this insight by detecting and managing high blood pressure even for those in early midlife.”