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Lower blood pressure could be the key to slowing brain ageing

Researchers at the Australian National University have found that high blood pressure — albeit within the safe recommended range — could hasten brain ageing.

Normal blood pressure is defined by pressure below 120/80, whereas an optimal and healthier blood pressure is closer to 110/70. 

The researchers found that at the optimal pressure people had a brain age more than six months younger than their age by the time they reach middle age, when compared to someone with high blood pressure.

Having higher blood pressure, and therefore an unhealthier brain, increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and dementia.

The study comes on the back of a large study which found that the number of people over 30 with high blood pressure around the world has doubled.

"This thinking that one's brain becomes unhealthy because of high blood pressure later in life is not completely true," Professor Nicolas Cherbuin, Head of the ANU Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Wellbeing, said. 

"It starts earlier and it starts in people who have normal blood pressure." 

Lead author, Professor Cherbuin, said the findings highlight a particular concern for young people aged in their 20s and 30s.

"By detecting the impact of increased blood pressure on the brain health of people in their 40s and older, we have to assume the effects of elevated blood pressure must build up over many years and could start in their 20s. This means that a young person's brain is already vulnerable," he said. 

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