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The Alzheimer’s-blood pressure connection

Rock legends David Bowie and Freddie Mercury must have known something that science discovered only recently. In their rock anthem “Under Pressure,” they crooned: “Pressure pushing down on me … Chipping around, kick my brains around the floor.”

Researchers wouldn’t put it quite that way, but there is a correlation between a person’s elevated blood pressure later in life and brain health, particularly Alzheimer’s disease risk. A study in Neurology recorded the blood pressure of 1,300 people ages 59 to 102 annually for a mean of eight years. Brain autopsies of deceased subjects then revealed a link between high blood pressure and the presence of neurofibrillary tangles, characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.

An elevated systolic, or top number, above 134 mmHG increased the odds of developing brain lesions by nearly 50%. But according to Dr. Richard Isaacson, director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian, anything above 120 puts you in the “new risk zone.” The study didn’t find a correlation with an elevation of the diastolic (the bottom number) and Alzheimer’s.

The good news: Lifestyle changes can help you achieve a healthy blood pressure of around 120/75. The DASH, Mediterranean and “What to Eat When” diets are a smart starting point. Check out Sharecare.com for info on these nutritional approaches and to download a free phone app to keep track of your numbers. Plus, ask your doc about medications and at-home, self-measured blood pressure monitors; the cuff ones are usually reliable, but should be checked against one at your doc’s office.

HOW D’OXYVA CAN HELP?

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The improvement of microcirculation, i.e., blood flow to the smallest blood vessels, benefits one’s health, immune system and overall sense of well-being in a variety of ways.

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