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Healthy Aging

Another Reason Not to Ignore High Blood Pressure

By Sheryl Kraft

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Back in May, I wrote about my blood pressure, which started to climb (just like my mother's did) when I hit my 50s, despite a healthy diet and plenty of exercise.

Sometimes, heredity speaks louder than actions. Sigh.

So, my doc put me on medication that I take once each day, and it instantly brought it down to normal range, I'm happy to say.

No one wants high blood pressure. It's often silent and can damage your body - your heart, brain and kidneys - for years before it's detected.

And now, researchers have found something else linked to high blood pressure in people over 45: memory problems.

In a study of nearly 20,000 people age 45 and older across the country, those with high diastolic blood pressure (that's the bottom number on the reading) were found to be more likely to have problems with their memory and thinking skills. One possible reason for this connection is that high diastolic blood pressure leads to weakening of small arteries in the brain, according to research. That can result in the development of small areas of brain damage.

Walter J. Koroshetz, MD, deputy director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) warns that further studies will be necessary and says that the National Institutes of Health is in the process of organizing a large clinical trial to gauge the effects of aggressive blood pressure lowering, including cognitive decline.

PS. If your blood pressure is high when you go to the doctor, and he/she blames it on "White-Coat Hypertension" (meaning it's only high because you get nervous while at the doctor - so it only goes up then), don't listen. A new study shows otherwise.