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High Blood Pressure and Cognitive Function
Important for young and old
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While they characterize the decline as "relatively minor and manageable in terms of everyday functioning," the authors underscore the importance of treatment for high blood pressure. In their study, younger individuals (18-47) performed at a higher level than older individuals (48-83), but they, like older individuals, showed blood pressure-related decline in cognitive function over time.
The report is based on an analysis of 20 years of blood pressure and cognitive performance data for 529 subjects in the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study (MSLS) of Hypertension and Cognitive Functioning. That study was begun by Merrill Elias and David Streeten (Professor of Medicine) of the Health Sciences Center, State University of New York at Syracuse in 1974. It continues with grants from the National Institutes of Health, most recently the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institute on Aging.
Subjects in the study exhibited a normal range of cognitive functioning, as determined by the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS). People suffering from dementia, diabetes, psychiatric illness, alcoholism, drug abuse or stroke were excluded.
The researchers analyzed data from four types of cognitive function tests focusing on visualization-fluid ability, memory, crystallized-verbal ability and speed. Only tests for visualization-fluid ability showed a statistically significant association with blood pressure in younger and older adults, aged 18-83.
Visualization tests included in the study measure abilities such as picture completion, picture arrangement, block design and object assembly. As a group, the tests require visualization and organization skills and the ability to solve novel problems under time constraints.
MEDICA.de; Source: University of Maine