(HealthDay News) — Hypertension (HTN) and type 2 diabetes (T2D) may contribute to brain changes in Puerto Rican older adults, according to a study published online in Neurology.

Yi Guan, from the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues examined the associations of HTN and T2D comorbidity on brain structural integrity and cognitive capacity among community-dwelling Puerto Rican older adults in the Boston Puerto Rican Health Study (BPRHS) compared with non-Hispanic White and Hispanic older adults from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiatives (ADNI) and National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center (NACC) databases.

The researchers found compared with non-Hispanic White ADNI participants, the prevalence of HTN and T2D were higher in BPRHS (66.7 vs 38.7% and 31.8 vs 6.6%, respectively). Clear deteriorating patterns were seen in major white matter tracts on diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the HTN+/T2D+ group and, to a lesser extent, in the HTN+/T2D− group versus the HTN−/T2D− group. Hippocampal volume was smallest in HTN+/T2D+ participants, and they had larger brain aging deviations. Compared with HTN−/T2D− participants, HTN+/T2D+ participants had trends toward lower executive function and global cognition scores. MRI measures and Mini-Mental State Examination for HTN+/T2D+ participants from the BPRHS were similar to White progressive mild cognitive impairment participants from the ADNI database.

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“This high prevalence of people who have both diabetes and high blood pressure may be a key factor contributing to health disparities in cognitive impairment in Puerto Rican people compared to White people of the same age range,” a coauthor said in a statement.

The study was partially funded by the ADNI, which is funded in part by biopharmaceutical and medical device companies.

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