The findings come from a study of 37,041 participants enrolled in UK Biobank, and found a strong association between diastolic blood pressure (the blood pressure between heart beats) before the age of 50 and brain damage in later life.

Dr Richard Oakley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, which part-funded the study, said:

‘High blood pressure doesn’t just affect our hearts, but our heads too. Although this study didn’t look for a specific link between blood pressure and dementia, it’s an important step forward in understanding how high blood pressure is linked to changes in the brain that can increase our risk of dementia.

With few dementia treatments available and researchers still searching for a cure, it’s vital we do what we can to keep our minds healthy, as well as our bodies.

‘The recent Lancet Commission report – the largest study into preventable risk factors for dementia, co-funded by Alzheimer’s Society – identified 12 factors that can increase our chances of dementia, including high blood pressure. But the work’s not over; we still need to understand how and why this happens, and the steps needed to prevent this devastating condition. With one million people in the UK expected to be living with dementia within the next five years, we need continued investment in dementia research to make this happen.’

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