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Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center

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High Blood Pressure Causes Memory Lapse?

Short-Term Memory Slightly Worse in Those with Hypertension


This "slower" brain activity -- which may be attributed to so-called "senior moments" characterized by occasional memory lapses that occur after age 50 -- was noted at similar levels in all the hypertensive patients he evaluated, no matter their age. The participants were between ages 50 and 70 and none had been treated with high blood pressure medication when the study began.

"One message of our finding may be that if you're noticing occasional memory lapses, high blood pressure may be a contributing factor," he says. Unfortunately, many people with high blood pressure are unaware they have it.

Jennings' finding may also add to the increasing body of evidence that suggests there is a strong link between stroke and heart disease, both of which can result from high blood pressure, and the severe memory loss seen in patients with Alzheimer's disease.

Two weeks ago, that relationship was detailed at the American Medical Association's annual conference for science reporters in Philadelphia by Vladimir Hachinski, MD, professor of neurology at the University of Western Ontario in Canada and editor-in-chief of the medical journal Stroke. He noted that within three months of having a stroke, about one in four patients develop significant memory impairment, and two in three eventually develop Alzheimer's disease. Likewise, those with Alzheimer's appear to be more prone to stroke.

"The key is prevention, and the time to do it is middle age," he tells WebMD. "By taking measures to reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease, you can also reduce the risk of Alzheimer's."

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