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The Effects of Blood Pressure on Brain Health

Blood pressure is an important measure of health and wellness. That is why it is considerd a “vital sign” and is checked at every doctor's visit. For seniors living in Des Plaines and beyond, it is critical to understand the importance of blood pressure and how it relates to brain health. Managing blood pressure issues early on can help seniors live their most independent, healthy, and happy lives.

 

But what is blood pressure, and just how does it relate to your brain health?

What is High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the measure of your blood's circulation throughout the body. Whenever blood flows at a steady and uninhibited rate, it will show up in a blood pressure test.

High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) occurs when there are too many things blocking the blood's path as it flows throughout your body. The more blocking the flow, the higher pressure rises.

If the heart has to work harder to pump blood throughout the body, the organs can be impacted. This affects all the blood flows through, including the eyes, kidneys, and brain.

What Causes High Blood Pressure?

There is a range of factors that can impact your blood pressure. Poor diet and exercise habits over time, as well as regularly using substances such as alcohol or caffeine, can contribute to high blood pressure. Certain over-the-counter medicines can impact blood pressure as well. Stress and hormonal fluctuations are also a possible cause. With all of these contributing factors, it's important to discuss with a doctor your exact symptoms and related causes in order to determine the best approach for treatments.

How High Blood Pressure Affects the Brain

If blood flows at a stronger rate, it can cause damage to the smaller blood vessels in more delicate parts of your body, including the brain. These areas weren't meant to handle so much force. Whenever these little vessels in the brain break, it can result in memory loss and decreased cognitive function in general. Conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer's disease can be caused or exacerbated by high blood pressure.

Blood Pressure Struggles and Mental Health

Cognition isn't the only brain function that high blood pressure can disrupt. High blood pressure and its effects can also cause mental health issues. These can range from depression and anxiety to self-medicating through substance abuse, to shame and self-isolation. Individuals who are experiencing high blood pressure's side effects should be treated with great respect and care, and behaviors outside the norm should not be ignored. 

It’s critical that good mental health is encouraged, and reinforced through socializing with others, intellectual stimulation, and frequent exercise. Struggling with blood pressure does not mean your happiness is permanently compromised--rather, it means that having extra face time with those you love may be extra important. When the weather's good in Des Plaines, try going for a walk with those around you. 

Are You or Someone You Love Experiencing Mental Effects of High Blood Pressure?

Adjusting to the aging process takes adaptation and courage for those experiencing it as well as their loved ones. It may mean that for the most secure sense of wellbeing, 24-hour home care or some other form of intimate and consistent monitoring may be necessary.

If you or someone you love is in need of around-the-clock care in the Des Plaines area, Senior Helpers of Des Plaines can help. Contact us today to learn more about our program and our specific senior care services.