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For Your Health: Blood pressure & brain function

by Nina Vasavada, MD last modified May 23, 2012 11:08 AM

Good control of blood pressure is a topic of interest for preventing kidney disease and heart disease. But did you know that controlling your blood pressure can help decrease your risk of a stroke in later years, as well as late-life dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease?

For Your Health: Blood pressure & brain function

Nina Vasavada, MD

High blood pressure is the single most important treatable risk factor for stroke. Studies show that good blood pressure control decreases the risk of stroke, and that benefits are seen even in patients over the age of 80 years. Additionally, some studies suggest that having high blood pressure during ages 50 to 60 may increase the likelihood of Alzheimer’s.

High blood pressure is often a silent disease with no symptoms until damage to important body systems has occurred. Therefore, routine monitoring in a healthcare setting is a key to diagnosis. Self-monitoring of blood pressure out of the office gives valuable information that your physician can use to make decisions about treatment.

Recent guidelines suggest that high blood pressure is present if the blood pressure is greater than 140/90 mmHg. Individuals with diabetes or kidney disease should have blood pressure lowered to 130/80 mmHg. Treatments for high blood pressure include improving lifestyle factors such as reducing excess body weight, tobacco, and alcohol use, and consuming a diet low in salt and high in fruits and vegetables. Sometimes, a correctable cause for high blood pressure may be found.

Finally, there are a broad range of medications available to help patients reach their blood pressure goal. These can be tailored to the individual patient to minimize risk of side effects. Overall, the management of high blood pressure succeeds best when there is a strong partnership between physician and patient.

The take home message from these studies is that we all have more reasons to strive for good blood pressure control. High blood pressure specialists at the Kidney Disease Program are available for consultation for routine and complicated blood pressure management. To make an appointment or refer a patient, please call 502-813-6699.


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