High Blood Pressure In Younger Adults Lead To Cognitive Decline

The preliminary research that will be presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2022 has revealed shocking data about high blood pressure in young people. 

High Blood Pressure In Younger Adults Lead To Cognitive Decline

The study states that high blood pressure among people between the age of 20-40 years leads to brain changes in midlife (average age 55) that increases the chances of developing cognitive decline.

High Blood Pressure In Younger Adults Lead To Cognitive Decline

When a person has cognitive decline it means that the person is facing memory loss, reduced or slower thinking skills, and other mental problems. Usually, cognitive decline is caused due to the aging of neurons. Most people will face cognitive decline as they grow older.

It was found that high blood pressure disturbs the function and structure of the brain’s blood vessels, damaging critical areas of the brain which are responsible for cognitive function.

The American Heart Association states that 47% of U.S. adults had high blood pressure from 2015 to 2019. While the U.S. age-adjusted death rate primarily accountable to high blood pressure was 25.1 per 100,000 in 2019. 

The death rates from high blood pressure for non-Hispanic Black male adults were 56 per 100,000 and 38.7 per 100,000 for females.

Christina Lineback, M.D., lead study author and a vascular neurology fellow at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago said that various studies suggest that changes to the brain start happening at a young age. 

She further added that their study is evidence that high blood pressure during young adulthood can lead to changes in the brain in the future.

Researchers analyzed 30 years of follow-up including MRI brain images that were performed once at the age of 30 and then again at the age of 55. The study included 142 adults from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study. 

The CARDIA study had participants from four U.S cities: (Birmingham, Alabama; Chicago, Illinois; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Oakland, California), in the year 1985-1986. In total there were more than 5,000 Black and white adults (18 to 30 years) who were followed for over 30 years for this study 

In one follow-up study the brains of 142 participants (42% women) were examined in their midlife (55 age) from cumulative exposures to vascular risk factors, including high blood pressure, body mass index, cholesterol, smoking, and glucose, from young adulthood to midlife. 

Scientists also researched the key differences by race or ethnicity. They found out that 40% of the participants (n=55) were Black adults.

Below, is the analysis from the study:

  • Young adults who had high blood pressure from 25 to 55 years of age showed visible changes on brain imaging at midlife. This increased the risk of cognitive dysfunction in mid-and late life.
  • The brain changes that occurred due to high blood pressure exposure were similar across all races and ethnic groups that were examined in this study.

The limitation of the study is that it cannot prove that the primary reason for the brain changes is caused by high blood pressure.

Lineback said that the study findings should encourage medical professionals to address the issue of high blood pressure in young adults as this can lead to disparities in brain health.

She suggests the potential next step is to develop and implement helpful systems to better treat and monitor blood pressure in young children.

This study shows that all young children should make necessary changes in their lifestyle. They should exercise daily and take obesity seriously. Stop eating junk food and quit smoking. Taking blood pressure mildly can lead to serious health issues in the future. If you notice high blood pressure immediately visit a doctor. 

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