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High Blood Pressure and Hypertension: The Roots of Memory Loss

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by Sally Writes

Is High Blood Pressure Causing Your Memory Loss?

Did you miss another doctor’s appointment because it simply slipped your mind? Or, do you have trouble recalling names of people you see fairly often? You might just chalk it up to getting older. Isn’t memory loss just another part of aging? Think again. It could be a sign of an underlying issue, such as high blood pressure.

Research Links Hypertension to Memory Loss

Instead of memory loss serving as a common side effect of aging, recent research suggests that high blood pressure or hypertension may be the cause of short-term memory loss in older adults. You see, plaque and other tissue buildup occur when hypertension damages blood vessels.

When the plaque breaks free, it moves with the blood until it gets trapped in smaller vessels. The clots caused by these blockages prevent nutrient- and oxygen-filled blood from getting to parts of your body. The cells in the brain responsible for memory die when the clots or other blockages stop oxygen from reaching them. This eventually inhibits function.

Heart disease, strokes, coronary artery disease, aneurysms, and other well-known conditions are caused by hypertension. When these conditions occur, you get decreased blood flow in the body. However, even without a critical health event, the loss of vital brain cells might occur. Regardless of the cause, when lack of blood flow leads to the death of brains cells responsible for memory, you experience brain damage and memory loss.

High Blood Pressure May Cause Other Memory Loss Conditions

Studies have found that other diseases may be caused by the loss of blood flow from high blood pressure. One form of dementia known as vascular dementia is likely caused by a decreased flow of blood to the brain. As a matter of fact, you are at a greater risk of developing dementia in your later years if you have high blood pressure in your 40s or 50s. The shift in comprehension and memory as well as the mild cognitive impairment that starts in the senior years and is found in Alzheimer’s patients can also be attributed to inhibited blood flow from arterial damage.

Seniors who do not go in for medical check-ups regularly might not even know they have hypertension. The detrimental elements that cause memory loss due to high blood pressure develop over time. Eventually, they halt or decrease blood flow to important areas of the brain. Sufferers of hypertension experience subtle changes in their cognitive functions as brain cells die due to lack of blood.

Other Possible Causes of Memory Loss

Of course, hypertension is not the only cause of memory loss. Poor oral hygiene has been linked to memory loss. When you do not take care of your teeth, bacteria grow. These bacteria can make their way into your brain and lead to nerve cell death and memory loss.

Nutritional deficiency is another source of memory loss. One of the essential B vitamins for normal nerve function is B12. Without enough of it, you may experience dementia or confusion. Turn to foods fortified with B12 or natural sources like meat, fish, and dairy products to get your daily recommended dosage of 2.4 micrograms of B12.

Dementia and short-term memory loss are also caused by sleep apnea, a treatable but common disorder that causes you to frequently stop breathing while asleep. If your partner complains of loud snoring, you have daytime fatigue, or you wake up with a headache, you may have sleep apnea.

Since there are so many potential causes of memory loss, you should not ignore this symptom as your close friend or family member transitions into their twilight years. Instead, seek out the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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