Having high blood pressure in your 30s is associated with worse brain health around age 75, especially for men, according to a new UC Davis study.
The researchers compared magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans of older adults who had high blood pressure between the ages of 30 to 40 with older adults who had normal blood pressure.
The researchers found that the high blood pressure group had significantly lower regional brain volumes and worse white matter integrity. Both factors are associated with dementia.
The research also showed that the negative brain changes in some regions — such as decreased grey matter volume and frontal cortex volume — were stronger in men. They note the differences may be related to the protective benefits of estrogen before menopause.
“Treatment for dementia is extremely limited, so identifying modifiable risk and protective factors over the life course is key to reducing disease burden,” said first author Kristen M. George, an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences.
“High blood pressure is an incredibly common and treatable risk factor associated with dementia. This study indicates hypertension status in early adulthood is important for brain health decades later,” George added.