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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Hypertension can induce loss of memory

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If persistent up to a certain period, hypertension can cause cognitive impairment – reports Neurology in its current issue. Neurology is a Journal of neurological Sciences as per the name.

A study in Neurology has proved that high diastolic blood pressure is more likely to cause loss of memory or the cognitive impairment including the loss of the power of thinking in human beings. It is important to note that the power of thought is the specific evolutionary achievement through which human beings are far more superior to other beings on this planet.

Now, what is systolic and what is diastolic blood pressure in terms of the reading obtained by a blood pressure measuring instrument? Well, in the reading of someone’s blood pressure suppose in 120/80 of the mercury level, the bottom number indicates diastolic and the top number indicates systolic blood pressure. Let us walk into a more detailed field of this area.

Our heart pumps blood to all the parts of our body through vessels called artery. The force of the blood that pushes against the artery wall is called as blood pressure. The impure or the de-oxygenated blood is brought back through a different vessel called as vein. When the heart beats, it pumps out blood into arteries. The normal rate of beating of heart in a healthy person is 60 to 70 times per minute at the stage of rest. The pressure of blood remains at its highest when the heart beats or pumps blood into arteries. This is called systolic blood pressure. The blood pressure falls when the heart remains at rest between beats. The pressure of blood at this time is called as diastolic blood pressure.

Model of a Human Heart

A reading of 140/90 and above is considered as high blood pressure. According to the latest research a 10 point increase in diastolic blood pressure causes memory loss up to 7 percent. High blood pressure or the Hypertension can damage inner lining of arteries which induces a chain of events that make the artery wall thick and stiff. It can even lead to deposits on the inner wall and make it narrow. This narrowing of vessels reduces the amount of blood flowing towards the brain.

Under normal conditions about 1.1 liters of blood flows through the brain every minute. Any reduction in the blood flow through brain can retard its efficiency.Brain receives blood during both the activities of heart i.e. systole and diastole. It is most sensitive to the lack or scarcity of oxygen which is carried to the brain by hemoglobin found in the blood. Thus any reduction in the supply of blood to the brain is sure to result into cognitive problems. High reading of systolic blood pressure can cause stroke, heart attack, kidney failure etc. On the other hand high diastolic pressure causes cognitive impairment. The cognitive impairment can be a precursor of dementia. Dementia is a sickness which relates to the usually progressive deterioration of intellectual functions such as memory that can occur while other brain functions such as those controlling movement and the senses are retained. As per the research report, dementia can be prevented easily.

Prevalence of high blood pressure in India ranges from 24 to 30 percent in urban areas whereas it ranges from 12 to 14 percent in rural areas. The simplest prevention measure is to reduce salt intake as sodium increases contractility of blood vessels. Increasing intake of fruits and vegetables is preventive as these contain potassium which inhibits or counteracts the effects of sodium. (Based on a paper published in the Journal of Neurology, August 2009)

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