While they characterize the decline as "relatively minor and manageable in terms of everyday functioning," the authors underscore the importance of treatment for high blood pressure. In their study, younger individuals (18-47) performed at a higher level than older individuals (48-83), but they, like older individuals, showed blood pressure-related decline in cognitive function over time.
The study "breaks new ground," and "has far-reaching public health implications," according to an editorial by medical researchers in Belgium and the Netherlands published in the same issue of the journal. It extends what has been viewed as a problem of the elderly to younger people. Hypertension is published by the American Heart Association.
The authors are Penelope K. Elias, Merrill F. Elias and Michael A. Robbins of the UMaine Department of Psychology and Marc M. Budge of the Dept. of Geriatric Medicine, Canberra Hospital, Australia.
The report, titled Blood Pressure-Related Cognitive Decline: Does Age Make a Difference?, is based on an analysis of 20 years of blood pressure and cognitive performance data for 529 subjects in the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study (MSLS) of Hypertension and Cognitive Functioning. That study was begun by Merrill Elias and David Streeten (Professor of Medicine) of the Health Sciences Center, State University of New York at Syracuse in 1974. It continues with grants from the National Institutes of Health, most recently the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institute on Aging.