Unlocking Dementia Prevention: The Crucial Role of High Blood Pressure on White Matter


Unlocking Dementia Prevention
A recent study from the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) highlights the importance of safeguarding against white matter damage in individuals with high blood pressure to stave off cognitive decline and dementia.

High blood pressure affects both grey and white matter in the brain as people age. Grey matter houses brain cells. While white matter forms the network of nerve fibres connecting different grey matter regions.

Researchers led by Dr. Jing Du and Associate Professor Wei Wen found that white matter is more susceptible to damage from high blood pressure compared to grey matter.

Importance of brain tissue health 

Brain age is gaining attention as a powerful indicator of brain tissue health. It is a measure derived from neuroimaging using deep learning techniques. It’s calculated from MRI scans and offers insight into biological brain health.

The team used advanced technology to separately measure grey and white matter brain ages. Analysing brain scans from nearly 40,000 individuals with varying blood pressure levels, they discovered that higher blood pressure accelerates both grey and white matter ageing, with white matter showing faster ageing.

This suggests that memory and cognitive issues are more likely due to high blood pressure’s impact on white matter.

Different aspects of blood pressure also influence brain ageing. Systolic blood pressure has a linear relationship with brain ageing. While diastolic blood pressure shows a U-shaped relationship, indicating an optimal range for brain health.

The study emphasises the vulnerability of white matter to high blood pressure. This underscores the importance of maintaining optimal blood pressure levels for brain health.

Effectively managing blood pressure could help prevent cognitive decline. Future efforts should focus on monitoring and managing white matter health in individuals with hypertension.


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