Sondos El-Hulu

Racial Differences in The Relationship Between Blood Pressure and Cognition Over Time

Elevated blood pressure is a risk factor for several health conditions including dementia. Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the most common cause of dementia, is a progressive neurological disease that affects memory and other cognitive domains. Several studies have linked elevated blood pressure to significant declines in cognition; putting those individuals at a higher risk for developing AD. However, research is lacking regarding an understanding of the relationship between blood pressure and memory change across race. To further understand this relationship, the present research focuses on investigating blood pressure levels and memory in 737 African American and 2,350 Caucasian individuals over time to determine if the relationship between blood pressure and memory change is consistent across race. Data used in preparation of this work were obtained from the RADC Research Resource Sharing Hub. All participants completed a cognitive assessment at baseline and at 5-year follow-up. Results revealed that regardless of race, higher blood pressure was related to worse cognition. Additionally, although blood pressure is related to future cognition in both racial groups, it appears to only be related to baseline cognition in Caucasians. Our results suggest that African Americans may be able to better withstand high blood pressure for prolonged periods of time without the same impact on cognition as in Caucasians. Possible explanations for our findings may be that historically African Americans are at a higher risk for high blood pressure, and as a result, they may have developed a resistance to its detrimental effect on memory and cognition.

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