Hypertension and Diabetes Increase the Risk of Brain Damage

There are millions of people walking around right now, completely unaware that they are ticking time bombs, going about their lives trying to manage their diabetes and hypertension as they make their way into the middle and senior years of their life. They have no idea that these chronic conditions are only compounding other factors that have to do with their health. Researchers have solid proof showing that hypertension and diabetes cause a loss of brain cells, along with memory and problem solving abilities, which eventually, will result in dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease.

Health Visitor Taking Senior Man's Blood Pressure

Photo credit: bigstock.com

This study evaluated the memory skills and thinking abilities of almost 1,500 seniors with an average age of 80. When first tested, the subjects had either no problems, or mild memory and thinking problems. After the tests, the subjects underwent brain scans to see if they had markers of brain damage that are known to be a precursor to dementia. The subjects’ medical records were also reviewed to determine if they had been diagnosed with hypertension or diabetes during their middle years or later, with middle years being defined as between the ages of 40 to 64.

In this study, 72 of the subjects had developed diabetes in middle age, 142 after the age of 65, and almost 1,200 did not have diabetes. As for hypertension, 449 subjects were diagnosed with it in middle age, 448 after the age of 65, and 369 did not have hypertension.

When compared to subjects that did not have diabetes, those who developed it in middle age had a smaller brain volume, with the average being 2.9 percent. In regards to the hippocampus, the volume was as much as 4 percent smaller. They were twice as likely to have memory and/or thinking problems as well.

When compared to subjects that did not have hypertension, those who developed it in their middle ages were twice as likely to have brain damage to certain areas of the brain.


SEE ALSO: Top 15 Foods to Avoid if You have Hypertension


The findings of this study shows that the effects of these types of diseases take decades to develop problems in the brain, but they eventually do lead to certain types of brain damage and lead to problems that affect memory and thinking skills.

This study was published in the online issue of the journal of the American Academy of Neurology, called Neurology.

There have been previous studies that show a link between hypertension and type 2 diabetes to an increased risk of developing dementia, but the reasons behind this is not completely understood. Read also about a link between aspartame and Azheimer’s disease.

There are many reasons to keep healthy in all stages of life. What we do in our teens and twenties often affects us in our middle ages, and this study shows that what we do, or don’t do, as in controlling our blood pressure and diabetes, will have an effect on our brains during our senior years.