Blood Pressure and Brain Damage

Published Online: Tuesday, July 1, 2003

"Cholesterol makes a big difference to the blood vessels of the heart, but the vessels of the brain are extremely sensitive to blood pressure," said Robert A. Felberg, MD, director of the stroke clinic at the Ochsner Clinic Foundation, commenting on a recent study published in Psychology and Aging. In the study, Scottish researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on the brains of 83 participants aged 78.

The MRI scans showed "white matter," areas of brain tissue loss. "High blood pressure is known to increase the formation of white matter," according to Ian Deary, PhD, of the University of Edinburgh, who led the study.

Researchers then administered tests of nonverbal reasoning, memory and learning, and processing speed. According to the report, the more white matter, the lower the scores.

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