High blood pressure in middle age versus old age may better predict memory loss

People in middle age who have a high blood pressure measure called pulse pressure are more likely to have biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease in their spinal fluid than those with lower pulse pressure, according to research published in the November 13, 2013, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Pulse pressure is the systolic pressure, or the top number in a blood pressure reading, minus the diastolic, or the bottom number. Pulse pressure increases with age and is an index of the aging of the vascular system.

The study involved 177 people ages 55 to 100 with no symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Participants had their taken and lumbar punctures to obtain .

The study found that people who have higher pulse pressure are more likely to have the Alzheimer's biomarkers amyloid beta, or plaques, and p-tau protein, or tangles, in their than those with lower pulse pressure. For every 10 point rise in pulse pressure, the average level of p-tau protein in the spinal fluid rose by 1.5 picograms per millileter. A picogram is one trillionth of a gram.

"These results suggest that the forces involved in blood circulation may be related to the development of the hallmark Alzheimer's disease signs that cause loss of brain cells," said study author Daniel A. Nation, PhD, of the VA San Diego Healthcare System.

The relationship was found in people age 55 to 70, but not in people age 70 to 100.

"This is consistent with findings indicating that in is a better predictor of later problems with memory and thinking skills and loss of brain cells than high blood pressure in old age," Nation said.

Related Stories

In elderly, hardening of arteries linked to plaques in brain

date Oct 16, 2013

Even for elderly people with no signs of dementia, those with hardening of the arteries are more likely to also have the beta-amyloid plaques in the brain that are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published ...

Finding Alzheimer's disease before symptoms start

date Oct 16, 2013

Johns Hopkins researchers say that by measuring levels of certain proteins in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), they can predict when people will develop the cognitive impairment associated with Alzheimer's disease years before ...

Recommended for you

Long-term memories are maintained by prion-like proteins

date 4 hours ago

Research from Eric Kandel's lab at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) has uncovered further evidence of a system in the brain that persistently maintains memories for long periods of time. And paradoxically, ...

Water to understand the brain

date 5 hours ago

To observe the brain in action, scientists and physicians use imaging techniques, among which functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is the best known. These techniques are not based on direct observations ...

Scientists reveal more about how memories are formed

date 9 hours ago

Researchers at the University of Leicester working alongside colleagues in the US, have found that nerve cells in a brain region called the medial temporal lobe play a key role in the rapid formation of new memories about ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.