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Controlling Your High Blood Pressure May Reduce Your Risk of Dementia

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, has been found in some studies to be behind the development of dementia. While there are a few studies that differ, there are enough to show that if you want to help prevent dementia, then you need to control your high blood pressure.

Hypertension appears to be most connected with the development of vascular dementia – just one of several forms. This term refers to the type of dementia caused by a lack of sufficient oxygen and other nutrients to the brain. It occurs when blood vessels in the brain are damaged, limiting the blood flow. It can also happen after a stroke, which occurs when a blood vessel or artery in the brain is blocked.

Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia. It causes problems with reasoning, memory, good judgment, disorientation, confusion, trouble understanding or speaking, inability to focus, and more. Most often (85%), it is accompanied by other forms of dementia.

The people most likely to develop dementia are those with high blood pressure in their mid-life years – between 40 and 64 years old. Normal blood pressure is considered 120/80 mmHg. It is diagnosed as hypertension when it reaches 140/90 mmHg or higher.

High blood pressure causes problems in the brain by putting a strain on those blood vessels. It results in thickening of the blood vessel walls, which also makes them stiffer. This process is usually accompanied by fat deposits that accumulate in the blood vessels, narrowing them.

The stiffness of the blood vessels in the brain makes them easier to burst. When that happens, it can lead to a stroke or mini-stroke (TIA – transient ischemic attack). If you have several of these, it increases the likelihood you will get dementia or speed its development.

There are several risk factors involved in the development of high blood pressure. They include a diet consisting of many salty foods, being overweight, a lack of exercise, a family history of hypertension, smoking, and drinking excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol.

When blood pressure is higher than 180/120 mmHg, it can produce some serious symptoms. The symptoms can include chest pain, severe headaches, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, blurred vision, and difficulty breathing.

The early signs of dementia may already be occurring in you or a loved one. The early symptoms may include increasing confusion, memory problems, an increasing inability to concentrate, no longer able to do ordinary tasks, apathy, and possibly withdrawal or depression. There may also be changes in their mood and behavior.

Getting high blood pressure under control is well worth the effort since it can shorten your life or the quality of it. If you do not know the status of your blood pressure, you can visit a doctor and they can tell you. You can also discover and monitor your blood pressure by purchasing a blood pressure monitor or a wrist blood pressure monitor. Smartwatches are also available that can quickly give you blood pressure readings and other vital life signs.

Taking medications to help reduce your high blood pressure can help delay or even prevent the development of dementia. The sooner you control it, the better your health will be in the long run. Your longevity will benefit, too. 

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