Hypertension does more than put you at an increased risk for a heart attack, stroke, or aneurysm. New research says it also slows down blood flow in the brain. This can cause an array of memory problems from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease.
A group of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh compared patients with high blood pressure to those with normal blood pressure. Within these groups, they looked at Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive impairment. This included normal memory problems from aging. Then they used an MRI to measure blood flow in their brains.
The MRIs revealed that cerebral blood flow was lowest in Alzheimer’s patients. What’s more, normal people with hypertension had significantlylower blood flow in their brains than normal people without hypertension. They also found that blood pressure affected their brain function.
So if your doctor says you have high blood pressure and you’ve been ignoring his recommendations, it’s time to take action. You could preserve your memory. Here are some suggestions other than medications. If you have just mild hypertension, they may be all you need.
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Regular exercise is the most important first step. It doesn’t matter whether you walk for 15-30 minutes a day or do more vigorous and longer exercises. Getting some exercise four to five times a week or more should reduce your hypertension.
Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found that four weekly acupuncture sessions can work. They said the sessions reduced blood pressure as much as 40%. So if you have access to acupuncture, you may want to give it a try as well.
The right balance of calcium and magnesium can open up and relax your blood vessels. This lowers blood pressure. The right balance includes taking more magnesium than calcium if your bowels can tolerate it (500 mg calcium to 700 mg magnesium).
Other nutritional supplements, such as vitamin C and essential fatty acids, can help regulate your blood pressure as well. So can a low-sodium diet in some people.
For additional information, read the articles on my website, available at no charge to all newsletter subscribers. They could save your heart … and your memory.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
“Effects of Alzheimer’s disease may be heightened by high blood pressure,” www.medicalnewstoday.com.
“Susan Samueli Center research shows acupuncture can lower blood pressure as much as 40%,” www.medicalnewstoday.com, Dec 30, 2007.