High pulse pressure, which is a measure of high blood pressure, is being linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. This was suggested by researchers from the VA San Diego Healthcare System. The study findings can be found in the November online issue of the journal Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Pulse pressure is measured as the systolic pressure, the top number in a blood pressure reading, minus the diastolic, which is the bottom number. Pulse pressure increases with age and is considered as a biomarker for the aging of the vascular system. According to researchers middle-aged people who have high pulse pressure may also likely show biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease in their spinal fluid.
The study involved 177 people between the ages of 55 to 100 years old. None of the participants showed any symptoms of Alzheimer’s at the start of the study. During this period, the participants had their pulse pressure taken and recorded and were given lumbar punctures to obtain spinal fluid for evaluation.
The researchers found out that participants with higher pulse pressure readings were more likely to also have amyloid beta and p-tau protein in their spinal fluid than those with lower pulse pressures. Amyloid beta or plaques and p-tau protein or tangles are known biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease. For every 10-point rise in pulse pressure readings, the biomarker readings for amyloid beta and p-tau protein also rose by 1.5 picograms per ml.
In addition, the relationship was found in the middle-aged participants between 55 to 70 years old, but not in the participants aged from 70 to 100. According to Daniel A. Nation, PhD, of the VA San Diego Healthcare System and study author, These results suggest that the forces involved in blood circulation may be related to the development of the hallmark Alzheimer’s disease signs that cause loss of brain cells. This is consistent with findings indicating that high blood pressure in middle age is a better predictor of later problems with memory and thinking skills and loss of brain cells than high blood pressure in old age.”
Source: American Academy of Neurology (AAN). “High blood pressure in middle age vs. old age may predict memory loss.” ScienceDaily, 13 Nov. 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2013