Intensive blood pressure control could slow age-related brain damage, study finds

Arrows indicate examples of white matter lesions seen on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans. (Source: National Institutes of Health/CNN)

(CNN) – A study funded by the National Institutes of Health indicates that intensive blood pressure control could slow the progression of age-related brain damage.

The nationwide study analyzed MRI brain scans of hundreds of people who took part in the NIH’s Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT).

It found a link between high blood pressure and what are known as “white matter lesions,” which reflect a variety of changes deep inside the brain.

Researchers found that intensive blood pressure control was better at slowing the buildup of white matter lesions than standard high blood pressure treatment.

“These initial results support a growing body of evidence suggesting that controlling blood pressure may not only reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease but also of age-related cognitive loss,” said Walter J. Koroshetz, M.D., director of the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

“I strongly urge people to know your blood pressure and discuss with your doctors how to optimize control. It may be a key to your future brain health.”

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