(HealthDay News) — Higher average late-life blood pressure (BP) is associated with an increased number of brain infarcts, according to a study published online in Neurology.

Zoe Arvanitakis, MD, from the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago, and colleagues conducted a clinical-pathologic study to examine the correlation of average and change in late-life BP with cerebrovascular and Alzheimer’s disease neuropathology in a large group of decedents. Systolic and diastolic BP (SBP and DBP) measurements were obtained annually during a mean follow-up of 8 years for 1288 individuals. Diseases of aging were documented with postmortem neuropathologic evaluations.

The researchers found that participants with a higher mean SBP had increased odds of brain infarcts. A person with a one standard deviation SBP above the mean would have 46% increased odds of having one or more infarcts and increased odds of gross and microinfarcts (46 and 36%, respectively). The odds of one or more infarcts were increased with a more rapidly declining SBP slope over time. In analyses of AD pathology, there was a correlation for higher mean SBP with higher number of tangles but not with plaques or other pathology. There was no significant correlation for changes in BP with Alzheimer’s disease pathology.

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“Higher average late-life SBP and DBP, and independently a faster decline in SBP, are associated with increasing number of brain infarcts, including gross and microinfarcts,” the authors write.

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Arvanitakis Z, Capuano AW, Lamar M, et al. Late-life blood pressure association with cerebrovascular and Alzheimer disease pathology. Neuro. DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000005951 [Published online July 11, 2018]