Optimal blood pressure helps our brains stay younger

Too much blood pressure is aging our brains.

According to a new study by Australian National University (ANU), too much blood pressure is aging our brains. In the study, scientists found that optimal blood pressure keeps our brain at least six months younger than our actual age.

A normal blood pressure level is less than 120/80 mmHg. On the other hand, the optimal and healthier blood pressure is closer to 110/70.

This new study comes after a large international study, which found that the number of people over 30 with high blood pressure has doubled globally. It determined how a validated measure of brain health relates to changes in BP.

In the study, scientists found that the participants with high blood pressure had older and therefore less healthy brains. This also increases their risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and dementia.

The study involved 686 healthy individuals aged 44 to 76. Based on their brain scans, scientists accessed their brain health using a machine learning approach to produce an estimate of the brain’s age.

Cardiologist and co-author of the study, Professor Walter Abhayaratna, said, “If we maintain optimal blood pressure our brains will remain younger and healthier as we age.”

“It’s important we introduce lifestyle and diet changes early on in life to prevent our blood pressure from rising too much, rather than waiting for it to become a problem.”

“Compared to a person with a high blood pressure of 135/85, someone with an optimal reading of 110/70 was found to have a brain age that appears more than six months younger by the time they reach middle age.”

Lead author, Professor Cherbuin, said, “The findings highlight a particular concern for young people aged in their 20s and 30s because it takes time for increased blood pressure to impact the brain.

“By detecting the impact of increased blood pressure on the brain health of people in their 40s and older, we have to assume the effects of elevated blood pressure must build up over many years and could start in their 20s. This means that a young person’s brain is already vulnerable.”

Professor Abhayaratna said, “The research findings show the need for everyone, including young people, to check their blood pressure regularly.”  

“Australian adults should take the opportunity to check their blood pressure at least once a year when they see their GP, to ensure that their target blood pressure is closer to 110/70, particularly in younger and middle age groups.”

“If your blood pressure levels are elevated, you should take the opportunity to speak with your GP about ways to reduce your blood pressure, including the modification of lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity.”

Journal Reference:
  1. Nicolas Cherbin, Erin I. Walsh et al. Optimal Blood Pressure Keeps Our Brains Younger. DOI: 10.3389/fnagi.2021.694982

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