High blood pressure and diabetes 'can impair thinking and memory'

Diabetes and high blood pressure cause 'structural changes' in the brain that make people's thinking slower and their memory worse, scans show Sufferers had 'structural changes' in the brain's grey and white matter When these individuals did a memory test they performed worse than others High blood pressure was associated with mental decline in mid-life, study said 

By Luke Andrews For Mailonline

Published: 09:44 BST, 8 September 2020 | Updated: 15:59 BST, 8 September 2020

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High blood pressure and diabetes can impair thinking and memory, a study has found.

An examination of 22,059 brain scans - including 1,100 with diabetes - revealed 'significant structural changes' in the grey and white matter of those suffering from the diseases.

When these individuals did a pair-matching test with a healthy partner to assess their memory and reaction time, scientists found they fared worse than their counterparts.

The results also revealed high blood pressure was associated with worse mental decline in mid-life, between the ages 44 to 69, but had a lower impact on those aged over 70.

High blood pressure and diabetes could impair brain function, a study said. Scientists found individuals suffering from the diseases had poorer recall and reaction times (stock image)

High blood pressure and diabetes could impair brain function, a study said. Scientists found individuals suffering from the diseases had poorer recall and reaction times (stock image)

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, said high blood pressure was associated with lower mental performance.

Writing in their paper, the scientists said the effect was small, with mental processing slowed down by only a fraction of a second.

But given the speed with which signals are passed through the body's nerves, this small decline still had a measurable impact.

'Remarkably, the findings show that it is possible to detect the negative effect of cardiovascular risk factors, such as raised blood pressure and diabetes, on cognitive function and brain structure in otherwise healthy people,' Masud Husain, professor of neurology and cognitive neuroscience at Oxford University, told The Guardian.

'The major implication is that these risk factors don't just have an influence on what happens later in life - the risk of developing dementia - they also have an impact on the brain and current levels of cognitive function in mid-life.'

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