Keep Your Blood Pressure Normal To Keep Your Brain Function

By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer

Studies have shown that keeping a normal blood pressure reading is important to prevent stroke and heart disease. The importance is far beyond as all parts of the body depends on the circulation for their nutrients antioxidants and oxygen. Many organs can suffer from the impact of untreated high blood pressure. Brain seems to be at greatest risk with both low and high blood pressures.

Memory loss
In Alzheimer's disease we know that there is memory loss. Even without AD one could get memory loss with continued untreated high blood pressure, and it takes a severe toll on the ageing brains.

Cognitive Impairment
Cognitive means reasoning, rational thinking and being intellectual. Mild cognitive impairment has been observed in those people whose blood pressure has been uncontrolled for a while. It would be a disaster to their wellbeing in such a situation.
New studies have shown that in such a situation you could go into dementia called 'vascular dementia' and even Alzheimer's disease.

Most investigations in this regard focus on older adults. For example, a study of 2,505 men between the ages of 71 and 93 found that men with systolic pressures of 140 mm Hg or higher were 77% more likely to develop dementia than men with systolic pressures below 120 mm Hg. Another study that evaluated blood pressure and cognitive function in people between 18 and 46, and between 47 and 83 found that in both age groups high systolic and diastolic pressures were linked to cognitive decline over time.

Cognitive decline cannot be reversed, and it is important to prevent it by controlling your blood pressure, European scientists reported that long-term therapy for high blood pressure, especially as you get older, reduced the risk of vascular dementia by 55%.

At the early stages, you may be able to control your blood pressure without medication by making lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, increasing activity, and more healthy eating. Early stages high blood pressure has no symptoms, as the body gets used to and accommodates the increasing blood pressure. But when elevated blood pressure is accompanied by abnormal cholesterol and blood sugar levels, the damage to your arteries, kidneys, and heart accelerates exponentially. Fortunately, high blood pressure is easy to detect and treat.

Misuse of alcohol
You tend to neglect your health with alcohol addiction. Alcohol abuse can produce life threatening health conditions. Excess alcohol is one of the key factors that lead to vascular dementia and other cognitive defects. It also leads to excessive behaviour problems such as gambling, unnecessary shopping, aggression, and fighting with the loved ones.Just stick to one glass of drink per day and check your blood pressure every six months.

Lowering your blood pressure through relaxing methods
Researchers at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital compared a stress management technique called the relaxation response with education about lifestyle changes such as sodium reduction, weight loss, and exercise. They found:
Blood pressure decreased more in the relaxation response group
32% of the volunteers in that group were able to eliminate one blood pressure medication and still keep their blood pressure under control, compared with 14% of the lifestyle group.

The relaxation response, developed by Harvard's Dr. Herbert Benson, has been shown to reduce heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, and muscle tension. Here's how to do it:
Select a word (such as "one" or "peace"), a short phrase, or a prayer to focus on.
Sit quietly in a comfortable position and close your eyes.
Relax your muscles, progressing from your feet to your calves, thighs, abdomen, and so on, up to your neck and face.
Breathe slowly, silently saying your focus word, phrase, or prayer to yourself as you exhale.

When other thoughts come to mind, don't worry. Simply return your attention to your focus word, phrase, or prayer.
Do this for 10–20 minutes.
Sit quietly for a minute or so, and then open your eyes.
Practise the relaxation response once or twice a day.

Keeping your blood pressure checked regularly and keeping it within normal limits pays healthy dividends in the long run.

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