Blood pressure is the pressure of blood in the arteries - the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the brain and the rest of the body. You need a certain amount of pressure to get the blood flowing around the body. As the heart beats, the pressure of the blood flowing through the arteries changes. When the heart is contracting and pumping blood around the body, the pressure in the arteries will be at its highest and it is the lowest when relaxed while it fills with blood before pumping again.
Long-term fluctuations in blood pressure readings may be linked to faster declines in brain and cognitive function among older adults, says a Rutgers Cancer Institute in New Brunswick, New Jersey, US. The findings appeared in the journal Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.
"Blood pressure variability might signal blood flow instability, which could lead to the damage of the finer vessels of the body with changes in brain structure and function," said Bo (Bonnie) Qin, lead study author and a postdoctoral scholar. "These blood pressure fluctuations may indicate pathological processes such as inflammation and impaired function in the blood vessels themselves," she noted.
For the study, the researchers analysed results from 976 Chinese adults (half women, age 55 and or older) who participated in the China Health and Nutrition Survey over a period of five years. Blood pressure variability was calculated from three or four visits to the health professional. Participants also underwent a series of cognitive quizzes such as performing word recall and counting backwards.
Higher visit-to-visit variability in the top number in a blood pressure reading (systolic blood pressure) was associated with a faster decline of cognitive function and verbal memory, the findings showed. However, higher variability in the bottom number (diastolic blood pressure) was associated with faster decline of cognitive function among adults aged 55 to 64, but not among those aged 65 and older.
While physicians tend to focus on average blood pressure readings, the new findings suggest that high variability may be something for physicians to watch for in their patients. "Controlling blood pressure instability could possibly be a potential strategy in preserving cognitive function among older adults," Qin said.According to Anshul Jai Bharat, a Delhi-based Nutritionist, "High blood pressure could cause internal damage and blood clots which effect the adjoining nerves and also the heart in the long run. Frequent fluctuations can impair the blood flow system. Extremely low blood pressure can make you dizzy and lose consciousness. Always keep a check and monitor your blood pressure regularly, start doing more physical activity and remember to be consistent., it will help you even in the long run."
With inputs from IANS