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Middle Age Blood Pressure Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

Update Date: Nov 13, 2013 04:09 PM EST

High blood pressure in middle age may mean Alzheimer's disease later on, a new study suggests.

New research reveals that middle-aged people who havea  high blood pressure measure called pulse pressure are more likely to have biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease in their spinal fluid than those with lower pulse pressure.

Researchers explain that pulse pressure, which is the systolic pressure, increases with age and is an index of aging of the vascular system.

The latest study involved 177 people between the ages of 55 and 100 with no symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Researchers took participants' pulse pressure and spinal fluid samples.

The findings revealed that people who have high pulse pressure are more likely to have the Alzheimer's biomarkers amyloid beta, or plaques, and p-tau protein, or tangles, in their cerebral spinal fluid than those with lower pulse pressure.

The study revealed that for every 10-point rise in pulse pressure, the average level of p-tau protein in the spinal fluid rose by 1.5 picograms per millileter.

Researchers noted that these findings applied to people aged 55 to 70, and not those aged 70 to 100.

"These results suggest that the forces involved in blood circulation may be related to the development of the hallmark Alzheimer's disease signs that cause loss of brain cells," study author Daniel A. Nation, PhD, of the VA San Diego Healthcare System said in a news release.

"This is consistent with findings indicating that high blood pressure in middle age is a better predictor of later problems with memory and thinking skills and loss of brain cells than high blood pressure in old age," Nation said.

The findings are published in the journal Neurology

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