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High BP Leads to Damage of Nerves Connected to Brain, Leads to Complications: Study

A new study has sent some warning signals to those with high BP or hypertension as it leads to nerves damage of tracts connected to brain. It leads to difficulties in cognitive abilities, decision-making and the ability to control emotions, said researchers.

"We already have clear ways to explore the damage high blood pressure can cause to the kidneys, eyes, and heart. We wanted to find a way to assess brain damage that could predict the development of dementia associated with vascular diseases," said Daniela Carnevale, lead author from Sapienza University of Rome, based in Neuromed Institute.

Since there is enough research on hypertension-related brain changes in the grey matter, Daniela Carnevale said the brain’s white matter is also equally important to throw light on high blood pressure’s impact on nerves linked to brain.

Using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), which is an advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that is enhanced to see and compare the structural and functional properties of the nerves connected to different parts of the brain. The researchers studied 15 participants who were on medication for moderate to severe high blood pressure and 15 participants who had normal BP and both were tested on cognitive skills.

The brain imaging found that those with abnormalities on a standard MRI, the more advanced DTI showed that participants with high blood pressure had damage to brain fibres that affect non-verbal functions and nerve fibres affecting emotional and functional regulation and limbic system fibres, which are involved in cognitive or attention tasks.

In addition, imaging and laboratory tests showed that damage to the heart and kidneys from high blood pressure is also visible. Those with high BP are particularly vulnerable to cognitive and memory functions of the brain.

"DTI provides a way to evaluate pre-symptomatic brain damage in people with high blood pressure in order to identify possible therapies to help control brain damage and reduce the eventual development of dementia," Carnevale added.

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