Many people who have a high blood pressure reading that begins with the number “130” probably are not overly concerned. After all, for many years, doctors told patients not to worry unless readings were 140/90 or higher.
However, AARP reports that two new studies have found signs of an increased risk of dementia in middle-aged people with mild to moderately high blood pressure.
For example, a study in the European Heart Journal found an increased risk of developing dementia later in life among people who at age 50 have a systolic blood pressure of just 130 mmHg.
A separate study published in the journal Cardiovascular Research also found a link between high blood pressure and dementia.
Neuropsychiatrist Constantine Lyketsos of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine told AARP:
“The mechanism is not clear, but it’s probably because moderately … elevated blood pressure in midlife slowly erodes the blood vessels in the brain and affects the blood supply to the deeper tissues of the brain over the years.”
The new research is among the latest findings that mildly elevated blood pressure causes more damage than previously thought. For that reason, the American Heart Association has changed its definition of high blood pressure from 140/90 in past years to 130/80 today.
That change is significant, because it means that nearly half of the U.S. adult population — 46 percent — can be characterized as having high blood pressure, or hypertension, the AHA says.
In addition to its possible link to dementia, high blood pressure is associated with an increased risk of potentially fatal health conditions such as heart disease and stroke.
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