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.”
People could reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by eating at least one serving of seafood per week, according to new study, which set out to further explore the link between seafood, fatty acids, mercury and dementia. The role of Omega-3 fatty acids in combatting Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia has been lauded by many people for quite some time now. But many sceptics questioned whether the mercury found in fish could cancel out its benefits for protecting against dementia. For the study, researchers surveyed a group of older adults living in the Chicago area. They quizzed them about their diets and, in a subset of almost 300 who died between 2004 and 2013, they carried out brain autopsies to check the levels of mercury present and see if any neurological damage had occurred as a result. The researchers found that while higher levels of mercury were seen in participants who reported eating seafood regularly, they did not appear to have suffered neurological damage as a result. In fact, those participants were found to be less likely to have hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. Martha Clare Morris, director of nutrition and nutritional epidemiology at Rush University Medical Centre, who is the lead author of the study, said: "Our hypothesis was that seafood consumption would be associated with less neuropathology, but that if there were higher levels of mercury in the brain, that would work against that. But we didn't find that at all.” The only catch is that the study only observed this benefit among the participants who carried the APOE-4 gene, which is associated with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Nevertheless, it is possible that eating seafood regularly could also benefit individuals who do not carry the gene. This particular study, however, wasn’t large enough to detect if that is indeed the case.