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The Alzheimer’s–Blood Pressure Connection

The Alzheimer’s–Blood Pressure Connection

Find out how high blood pressure can affect your brain health as you age.

Researchers found there is a correlation between a person’s elevated blood pressure later in life and brain health—particularly Alzheimer’s disease risk. A study in Neurology recorded the BP of 1,300 people ages 59 to 102 annually for a mean of eight years. Brain autopsies of deceased subjects then revealed a link between hypertension and the presence of neurofibrillary tangles, a characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.

An elevated systolic or top number above 134 mmHG increased the odds of developing brain lesions by nearly 50 percent. But as Dr. Richard Isaacson, director of the Alzheimer's Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian points out on DoctorOzShow.com, anything above 120 puts you in the “new risk zone.” The study didn’t find a correlation with an elevation of the diastolic/bottom number and Alzheimer’s.

The good news: Lifestyle changes can help you achieve a healthy blood pressure of around 120/75. The DASH, Mediterranean, and What to Eat When diets are a smart starting point. Check out Sharecare.com for info on these nutritional approaches, and to keep track of your numbers, download the Sharecare app for iOS and Android. Plus, ask your doc about medications and at-home, self-measured blood pressure monitors—the cuff ones are usually reliable but should be checked against one at your doc’s office.

Medically reviewed in November 2019.

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