Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical EditorEveryone knows, or at least has heard, that high blood pressure is not a good thing.

Yet, about 40 percent of people who know they have high blood pressure blow it off because they don’t have symptoms or think it’s not going to cause a problem.

Many of those who hide their hypertension deep in the darkest recesses of their brains are between the ages of 35 and 50. Turns out, that’s a key age group for having high numbers do a number on your brain.

A new study shows people in the younger-middle age groups who have untreated high blood pressure wind up with brain shrinkage over time. In other words, high BP is the fast track to dementia at a young age.

Researchers looked at MRI scans of people who ignored their high blood pressure, and found their brains were 7-and-a-half years older than people with normal BP, or people who kept their BP in check.

Evidently, high blood pressure silently kills off nerve fibers and brain connections — so you wind up with Alzheimer’s type symptoms close to a decade sooner than others.

Normal blood pressure is 120/80 or lower. When’s the last time you had your numbers checked? And if they were high, did something about it?

The truth is sometimes is just one of those genetic things — it runs in your family and there’s little to do except just “take your medicine.”

But more and more, we see people who are a little pudgy, or eat a year’s worth of salt in a day, or think getting off the couch is a once in a lifetime event.

With you, we can help. A little medicine as you eat better, get moving, and drop those pounds — then maybe you can say goodbye to medication.

It’s not that hard. Get it checked and get it treated. Your brain will thank you. And it will be healthy enough to remember to thank you.


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