|High blood pressure may lead to memory loss.|
It’s no secret that high blood pressure (or hypertension) brings with it a whole host of health problems. Increased risk for heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and sudden death are just a few of the complications associated with uncontrolled high blood pressure. A new study adds mental decline to the list of negative effects of hypertension.
Researchers followed 24,000 people who had no prior history of cognitive impairment or stroke. They found that having high blood pressure increased study participants’ risk for cognitive decline. Cognitive decline is more than just the age-related changes in memory; it involves declines in thinking skills, memory, language, and problem solving.
There are some things you can do to keep your blood pressure in the “healthy” range and prevent the health issues associated with hypertension, including cognitive decline.
• Know your numbers: The first step is to have your blood pressure checked. A normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg. If your blood pressure reading is above this number, you should consult with your healthcare provider.
• Slash your salt intake: The 2010 recommendations set the limit at 2,300 mg of sodium per day and 1,500 mg of if you’re older or already have high blood pressure.
• Combine efforts: Following the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) has long been touted as an effective way to lower blood pressure. A recent study found that combining regular exercise with the DASH diet was a more effective way to reduce your blood pressure than following the DASH diet alone.
• Take a nap: New research suggests that taking at least a 45-minute snooze during the day resulted in lower blood pressure following a stressful event. This important finding may help you manage both your blood pressure and your stress level.