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We’ve heard that high blood pressure is a culprit for dementia – but what about low blood pressure?

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We’ve heard that high blood pressure is a culprit for dementia – but what about low blood pressure?

We’ve heard that high blood pressure is a culprit for dementia – but what about low blood pressure?

Cropped shot of a senior woman getting her blood pressure measured during a checkup with a nurse

Researchers have known for years that high blood pressure can damage small blood vessels in the brain, affecting the parts that are responsible for thinking and memory.[1] More recently, the link between low blood pressure and dementia has come into question. Low blood pressure is associated with a reduced flow of blood to the brain, leading to damage causing dementia.[2]

According to the American Heart Association, blood pressure is recorded as two numbers: systolic (the first number) and diastolic (the second number).[3] Studies have shown that diastolic blood pressure, sometimes known as resting blood pressure, is the better predictor of your brain’s health and performance.[4] One study defines low diastolic blood pressure as anything below 80mm/Hg, with research showing that – for people with blood pressure lower than that number – brain performance is significantly reduced.[5]

Possible causes of low blood pressure include medications, alcohol use and dehydration; in some cases, it can be caused heart health issues. If you experience symptoms of low blood pressure, like dizziness, blurry vision, nausea or heart palpitations, consider visiting your doctor for a check up.[6]

[1] Blood Pressure and Alzheimer’s Risk: What’s the Connection? Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/alzheimers-disease/blood-pressure-and-alzheimers-risk-whats-the-connection

[2] Low blood pressure could be a culprit in dementia, studies suggest. The Conversation. October 1 2019. https://theconversation.com/low-blood-pressure-could-be-a-culprit-in-dementia-studies-suggest-122032

[3] Understanding Blood Pressure Readings. American Heart Association. November 30 2017. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/understanding-blood-pressure-readings

[4] Low blood pressure could be a culprit in dementia, studies suggest. The Conversation. October 1 2019. https://theconversation.com/low-blood-pressure-could-be-a-culprit-in-dementia-studies-suggest-122032

[5] Low blood pressure could be a culprit in dementia, studies suggest. The Conversation. October 1 2019. https://theconversation.com/low-blood-pressure-could-be-a-culprit-in-dementia-studies-suggest-122032

[6] Low Blood Pressure. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. National Institutes of Health. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/low-blood-pressure