Washington D.C.: High\u00a0blood pressure\u00a0appears to speed up\u00a0cognitive decline\u00a0among middle-aged and older adults however treating it can slow down the regression, suggests a study. \n\n\n\nThe preliminary study presented by researchers at Cof Public at the American Heart Association's Hypertension 2019 Scientific Sessions. \n\n\n\n"The findings are important because high\u00a0blood pressure\u00a0and\u00a0cognitive decline\u00a0are two of the most common conditions associated with aging, and more people are living longer, worldwide," said L.H. Lumey , professor of Epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School and study's senior author. \n\n\n\nThe study analyzed data collected on nearly 11,000 adults from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) between 2011-2015, to assess how high\u00a0blood pressure\u00a0and its\u00a0treatment\u00a0may influence\u00a0cognitive decline. \n\n\n\nHigh\u00a0blood pressure\u00a0was defined as having a systolic\u00a0blood pressure\u00a0of 140 or higher and a diastolic\u00a0blood pressure\u00a0of 90 or higher, and\/or taking antihypertensive\u00a0treatment. According to guidelines of the American Heart Association, high\u00a0blood pressure\u00a0is defined as 130 or higher or a diastolic reading of 80 or higher. \n\n\n\nFor the study in China, researchers interviewed study participants at home about their high\u00a0blood pressure\u00a0treatment, education level and noted if they lived in a rural or urban environment. They were also asked to perform cognitive tests, such as immediately recalling words as part of a memory quiz. \n\n\n\nAmong the study's findings:\n\n\n\nOverall cognition scores declined over the four-year study. Participants ages 55 and older who had high\u00a0blood pressure\u00a0showed a more rapid rate of\u00a0cognitive decline\u00a0compared with participants who were being treated for high\u00a0blood pressure\u00a0and those who did not have high\u00a0blood pressure. \n\n\n\nThe rate of\u00a0cognitive decline\u00a0was similar between those taking high\u00a0blood pressure\u00a0treatment\u00a0and those who did not have high\u00a0blood pressure. \n\n\n\nThe study did not evaluate why or how high\u00a0blood pressure\u00a0treatments may have contributed to slower\u00a0cognitive decline\u00a0or if some\u00a0treatments were more effective than others. \n\n\n\n"We think efforts should be made to expand high\u00a0blood pressure\u00a0screenings, especially for at-risk populations, because so many people are not aware that they have high\u00a0blood pressure\u00a0that should be treated," said presenting study author Shumin Rui, a biostatistician at Columbia Mailman School.\n\n\n\n"This study focused on middle-aged and older adults in China, but we believe our results could apply to populations elsewhere as well. We need to better understand how high\u00a0blood pressure\u00a0treatments may protect against\u00a0cognitive decline\u00a0and look at how high\u00a0blood pressure\u00a0and\u00a0cognitive decline\u00a0are occurring together," said Rui.