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Alzheimer's Linked to High Blood Pressure in Middle-Age

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- There's a new reason for people in their 50s and 60s to keep a close watch on their blood pressure: hypertension may be linked to an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease.

Scientists with the VA San Diego Healthcare System say that middle-age people with a high systolic number -- or the top number in a blood pressure reading -- tend to have biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease in their spinal fluid.

The researchers based their findings on studies of people ages 55 and 100 with no symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

Those in the 55-70 age group with high blood pressure were found to have more plaques and tangles in their cerebral spinal fluid than people with lower pulse pressure.

Studies have shown plaque buildups in the brain are indicative of Alzheimer's disease.

Lead author Daniel A. Nation added, "High blood pressure in middle age is a better predictor of later problems with memory and thinking skills and loss of brain cells than high blood pressure in old age."

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ABC News Radio