, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 547-558,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 23 Oct 2013

Hypertension, Brain Damage and Cognitive Decline

Abstract

Loss of cognitive function is one the most devastating manifestations of ageing and vascular disease. Cognitive decline is rapidly becoming an important cause of disability worldwide and contributes significantly to increased mortality. There is growing evidence that hypertension is the most important modifiable vascular risk factor for development and progression of both cognitive decline and dementia. High blood pressure contributes to cerebral small and large vessel disease resulting in brain damage and dementia. A decline in cerebrovascular reserve capacity and emerging degenerative vascular wall changes underlie complete and incomplete brain infarcts, haemorrhages and white matter hyperintensities. This review discusses the complexity of factors linking hypertension to brain functional and structural changes, and to cognitive decline and dementia. The evidence for possible clinical markers useful for prevention of decreased cognitive ability, as well as recent data on vascular mechanism in the pathogenesis of cognitive decline, and the role of antihypertensive therapies in long-term prevention of late-life cognitive decline will be reviewed.