Central blood pressure is critically important to brain health because the central pressure is experienced by the brain directly, with no buffering of the pressure pulsation. This is not true for the traditional brachial blood pressure because that pressure that is measured in the arm, which is measured primarily because of its convenience and its general ability to track risk in large populations. This difference was illustrated in a very important study published by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center. The study compared central vs brachial pressure in assessing brain disease in individuals over 55 years of age, finding that only central blood pressure was predictive of the development of white matter hyperintensities. White matter disease affects the nerves that link parts of the brain to each other and to the spinal cord. These nerves are also known as white matter, and white matter disease leads to reduction in brain function, such as is experienced in dementia.
In an editorial accompanying the publication of this paper, Dr Kevin King of the Huntington Medical research Institute stated; “Determining that only central blood pressure assessments were linked with increased white matter hyperintensity burden may have important clinical implications for management of blood pressures among the elderly to promote healthy brain aging.”