At-Home Blood Pressure Readings Might Help Track Ailing
MONDAY, Nov. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Measuring older people's
blood pressure as they go about their normal activities throughout
the day can also help reveal problems that affect the brain, a
small, new study says.
But this isn't possible using clinical blood pressure readings
taken in a doctor's office or other health care setting.
So-called "ambulatory" blood pressure is measured using a
special portable device that monitors blood pressure at regular
intervals while patients go about their daily activities.
In the new study, researchers compared changes in blood pressure
and the volume of "white matter hyperintensities" -- lesions that
are a sign of small vessel brain damage -- in the brains of 72
people, average age 82, at the start of the study and again two
Previous studies have shown that white matter hyperintensities,
which can be detected using MRI, are associated with a reduction in
memory and thinking skills, known as cognitive decline. Along with
looking for white matter hyperintensities, the researchers assessed
the participants' cognitive ability and physical mobility over the
The study found that a worsening in ambulatory blood pressure
was associated with an increase in the brain lesions and a decrease
in cognitive function and physical mobility. There was no
association between white matter hyperintensities and clinical
blood pressure readings, according to the findings published in the
current issue of the journal
"This study showed for the first time in an older population that blood pressure measured over a 24-hour period was associated with the progression of vascular brain disease, whereas the typical office blood pressure was not," senior author Dr. William B. White, a professor of hypertension and clinical pharmacology in the Calhoun Cardiology Center at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in Farmington, said in a news release from the American Heart Association.
Targeting average ambulatory blood pressure could reduce the
progression of small vessel brain disease, according to the
"The results of this cohort study mean that for older people who aim to stay as functional as possible during advancing age, their blood pressure averaged out of the office, rather than
in the office, might be the most important to target and
treat," White said.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about
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