Blood pressure factors into mental ability or cognitive function, particularly high and unusually low blood pressures. The connection, however, is influenced by age, educational level, and blood pressure medications. The researchers based the results of the study on 847 patients who completed cognitive function tests up to 7 times over 11 years.
The findings indicated that high systolic blood pressures were connected with cognitive decline in older participants. On the other hand, high or low diastolic pressures correlated with cognitive impairments in participants who were older, not well educated, or not taking blood pressure medications. The researchers concluded that monitoring and treating various pressure readings may be key to keeping cognitive function. (The findings were reported in Hypertension, March 2005.)