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From the JAMA Network
May 19, 2015

Blood Pressure Control and Cognitive Performance: Something to Think About With Aging

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Neurology, University of California, Davis, Sacramento
JAMA. 2015;313(19):1963-1964. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.3113

Along with declining memory performance, elevation of systolic blood pressure and an increased prevalence of hypertension are expected consequences of advancing age. It is not surprising, therefore, to expect that the two processes may be related. In 1987, Inzitari et al1 first identified brain injury and subtle cognitive impairment associated with elevated levels of systolic blood pressure (SBP). In 1995, Launer et al2 found that elevations in middle-life blood pressure were associated with reduced cognitive function in later life. Many studies subsequently confirmed and extended research related to the relationships among middle-life blood pressure, brain injury, and cognitive function among community-living individuals, suggesting that the inverse relationship between middle-life blood pressure and reduced cognitive ability is nearly universal. Using a twin study design, Swan et al3 also confirmed the association between middle-life patterns of SBP and cognition and identified that the cognitive differences were likely mediated by brain injury related to the level of middle-life blood pressure.