High Blood Pressure and Memory
During Heart month, think about your brain as well as your heart. High blood pressure, associated with heart disease, is bad for your brain. Hypertension is a risk factor for Alzheimer's and if your care recipient suffers from high blood pressure, it is possible that it may hasten the decline of cognitive function.
Stroke can lead to dementia by destroying brain tissue, and high blood pressure is a significant risk factor for stroke. Vascular dementia is ranked second to Alzheimer's, and can be caused by a series of small strokes. Small strokes add up to damage similar to that caused by one signicant stroke. Both can cause damage to a large part of the brain.
About one third of people who suffer a stroke develop serious cognitive problems that interfere with their ability to perform daily activities. High blood pressure damages your blood vessels, causing build up of plaques which can block the blood flow to the brain. If the clot cuts off the blood supply to that part of the brain which is responsible for memory, the cells may die resulting in imparment of memory and thinking skills.
Hypertension can also cause damage to the myelin sheath that acts as "insulation" for the nerve fibres in the brain. If the myelin is subject to decay because of reduced blood flow and oxygen, the unprotected nerve cells can not do their job of sending messages to the brain. This too, can have damaging effects on memory and cognitive function.
Whenever cells are deprived of oxygen and nutrients, as with hypertension, they cannot function properly. If brain cells responsible for memory die due to blood restriction, then one's cognitive abilities are affected.
Note: the information contained in this article is not intended to replace medical advice. Readers are advised to discuss their individual circumstances with their physician or health practitioner.