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The Secret Side Effect of High Blood Pressure, Says Study

If your blood pressure is higher at night, it could be an indicator of this health condition.

According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of Americans have high blood pressure. When left untreated, an elevated blood pressure can damage your circulatory system, and can be a significant contributing factor to heart attack, stroke and other health threats. However, one recent study from researchers at Uppsala University, published in the journal Hypertension, has linked the health condition to a startling side effect. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.

High Blood Pressure Can Lead to Alzheimer's Disease in Some Men, Study Shows

It is normal for blood pressure to vary throughout the day, with lower readings at night, known as "dipping." According to the latest study, which involved observational data from 1,000 Swedish men followed for up to 24 years, older men who suffer from higher blood pressure at night than in daytime—something researchers refer to as "reverse dipping"—may be at a higher risk for Alzheimer's disease.

"The night is a critical period for brain health. For example, in animals, it has previously been shown that the brain clears out waste products during sleep, and that this clearance is compromised by abnormal blood pressure patterns. Since the night also represents a critical time window for human brain health, we examined whether too high blood pressure at night, as seen in reverse dipping, is associated with a higher dementia risk in older men," Christian Benedict, Associate Professor at Uppsala University's Department of Neuroscience, and senior author of the study, explained in a press release accompanying the study.

"The risk of getting a dementia diagnosis was 1.64 times higher among men with reverse dipping compared to those with normal dipping. Reverse dipping mainly increased the risk of Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia," Xiao Tan, postdoctoral fellow from the same department and first author of this research, added. 

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Researchers did point out that their study group was only older men, in their early seventies at the start of the study. "Our cohort consisted only of older men. Thus, our results need to be replicated in older women," concluded Benedict.

The next step? Researchers hope to investigate whether taking blood pressure lowering drugs at night would lower the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. In the meantime, since COVID-19 can endanger your heart, wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah