One recent study published in JAMA Network looked at signs of hypertension1 (high blood pressure) in early and mid-adulthood, as well as how those markers influenced brain health and dementia risk later in life.
Researchers studied over 400 adults in and around the San Francisco Bay Area over many years, collecting data when participants were around 30 and 40 years old and then following up with a brain health assessment when they were around 75 years old.
They found a significant correlation between hypertension in young adults, or those who eventually developed hypertension, and poorer brain health. Noted brain health factors included decreased brain and gray matter volume, as well as impacted white matter integrity.
They observed these effects to be particularly strong in men, although present in women as well.
While hypertension is often discussed in regard to heart health, this study demonstrated that our bodies possess an immense degree of interconnectedness, meaning that one system can strongly influence another.
Hypertension is certainly not something to be ignored, as it can lead to heart disease, and now it seems it could also contribute to poor brain health as you age.
Higher-than-average blood pressure can be seen in young adults, especially in association with unhealthy lifestyle factors, such as high stress levels, alcohol and tobacco use, as well as unhealthy dietary habits, and insufficient physical activity.