Before we scare you, keep in mind that if everyone in America who experienced high blood pressure — that’s about a third of us — got dementia, you would know about it. However, new research suggests that the relationship between hypertension and dementia is more pronounced and alarming than doctors previously understood and the National Institutes of Health is looking into so-called white matter damage in the brain.

Scientists already knew that high blood pressure impaired the ability of brain cells to communicate, but new data shows that people may suffer from multiple forms of dementia simultaneously. The good news is that high blood pressure can be easier to control than other contributing causes of dementia. It should also be noted that we’re talking about research, here, and not every study agrees. The NIH is planning some major research of its own into the subject. — PZS

AP via Yahoo:

In a flurry of new research, scientists scanned people’s brains to show hypertension fuels a kind of scarring linked to later development of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Those scars can start building up in middle age, decades before memory problems will appear.

The evidence is strong enough that the National Institutes of Health soon will begin enrolling thousands of hypertension sufferers in a major study to see if aggressive treatment — pushing blood pressure lower than currently recommended — better protects not just their hearts but their brains.

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