Researchers have found that patients with high blood pressure and other risk factors for stroke are more likely to develop reasoning and thinking difficulties. “This takes the disease to an even earlier point, that if you don’t change these factors or modify or control them, you are likely going to develop some cognitive issues, even if you never develop stroke. The impact of this study is really directly at primary care prevention,” said Dr. Shyam Prabhakaran, director of the Stroke Program at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

The study was published in the November 8 issue of Neurology and funded by the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Hamad Farhat, a NorthShore University HealthSystem neurosurgeon and expert in cerebrovascular neurosurgery hopes these findings will help persuade patients that major health problems can be caused by uncontrolled blood pressure.  Farhat said some patients don’t take their blood pressure medication because they feel sick from the drop in blood pressure or they feel okay and don’t think they need the medication. “Doctors should also be on the lookout for cognitive troubles in patients with high blood pressure, since the changes can be subtle and might go unnoticed, even by family members,” said Farhat. “When we objectively test them using a cognitive scale, this is when we find an actual difference.”   11/29/12

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