High blood pressure and diabetes can change the structure of the brain, slowing the sensation


High blood pressure and type 2 diabetes are commonly believed to affect the body, but a new paper has given evidence that they can also affect our brains in subtle ways, and its effects are already Can be seen in middle age.

“We found that hypertension and especially diabetes, have detrimental effects on the speed of thinking and memory,” the study’s co-first author, Oxford University neurologist Michelle Wealdesman, told ScienceArt.

“As the blood pressure rises, the speed of thinking and memory deteriorates.”

Diseases or other lifestyle and genetic factors affecting the blood supply of the brain are known as neurological risk factors.

We already know that such risk factors increase the likelihood of dementia in older people, but new research has focused on a smaller cohort, and used very subtlety measurements to determine Is how the brain is affected in terms of memory and thinking speed.

The research team analyzed MRI brain scans of more than 22,000 UK biobank participants, recording clinical, demographic and cognitive data of volunteers, along with changes in the gray matter and white matter pathway of the brain.

“The brain is made up of networks that connect different regions and work together to coordinate your thinking – these areas communicate through white matter pathways,” explained Weldesman.

“We found that the volume of the brain in a border network, and the integrity of the white matter connection between regions, are affected by risk factors that affect your brain’s blood supply.”

(Weldsman et al., Nature Communications, 2020)

The team matched MRI data to cognitive and clinical data, and found that in participants between 44 and 70 years old, hypertension was associated with lower cognitive performance. Interestingly, older adults (over 70 years old) did not show the same effect.

Although only 5 percent of those enrolled in the study were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the condition also predicted lower executive function.

Researchers emphasize that this mental loss is very small: a slight decrease in speed of thinking and memory, but nothing like the stark mental loss experienced in dementia. But we can find a shortcoming of the fact that participants’ brains are already changing, and this may bring worse results with age.

“Weds were subtle, and probably not something you’d see in day-to-day life.”

“But importantly, we can detect them and they are associated with microscopic damage to the brain that is already occurring in midlife. Therefore, it is important to prevent this damage as soon as possible in further deterioration. To be stopped. ”

Of course, about half of all American adults have high blood pressure, and about 1 in 10 have about 2 diabetes, which is a lot easier than it was.

But as one of the researchers, noted neuroscientist Masood Hussain of Oxford University, every millimeter of pressure in your arteries counts.

“Monitoring and treatment can also make a difference in moderately elevated blood pressure on brain structure and thinking speed in mid-life, while also providing the ability to reduce the risk of developing dementia later in life,” he said. They said.

The study has been published in Nature communication.

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