Study: High Blood Pressure in Early Midlife May Affect Brain Health Later in Life

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. later on / ˈlɛɪ tər ɒn / (idiom) – at a certain time in the future 

    You can just borrow my book for now, and I’ll give you your own later on.

  2. build on (something) / bɪld ɒn / (phrasal) – to use something created before as the starting point for something new

    The artist wanted to build on his mentor’s previous artwork, so he created a similar masterpiece.

  3. advancing years / ædˈvæns ɪŋ yɪərs / (n) – old age

    Jim has been experiencing a lot of illnesses in his advancing years.

  4. mandatory / ˈmæn dəˌtɔr i / (adj) – describing something that is required by a law

    Employees who miss the mandatory physical examination will face a penalty.

  5. manifestation / ˌmæn ə fəˈsteɪ ʃən / (n) – a sign or indication of something

    The rashes on her face are manifestations of her severe allergy.


Read the text below.

A study has found that high blood pressure in a person’s mid-30s may lead to greater risk of poor brain health later on.

Researchers from the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology conducted a study on 500 people born in 1946. The scientists wanted to build on previous research that linked high blood pressure in midlife to increased dementia risk in advancing years. They wanted to learn more about when and how dementia might develop.

The researchers looked at data on the participants’ health. These data included blood pressure measurements from age 36 onwards and brain scans done in the participants’ later years.

Higher blood pressure between the ages of 36 and 43 was found to be associated with brain damage. Similarly, people who had higher blood pressure between ages 43 and 53 showed more signs of brain damage in their 70s.

One of the researchers explained that high blood pressure harms the brain’s white matter, the part that connects the different areas of the brain to each other. This puts people at high risk of brain disease.

In line with these findings, lead researcher Jonathan Schott said that the age at which free mandatory health checks are offered should be changed. Currently, doctors conduct health checks on both the body and the brain only in patients who are 40 years old and above. This is because by those years, manifestations of severe brain illnesses occur. But based on the study, Schott asserted that health checks should be done earlier so that blood pressure problems can be treated even as early as the start of midlife.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree that adults younger than 40 years old should undergo mandatory health checks? Why or why not?
• Aside from earlier health checks, what other programs can the government introduce to promote the early detection and treatment of diseases?

Discussion B

• What do you think are some major factors that affect health in midlife (e.g. work, diet)? Discuss.
• What are some things that people should do or avoid in midlife to prevent serious illnesses later in life? Discuss.