NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was an important health alert Monday, about Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Surprisingly it came from the American Heart Association, and as CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez explained, it’s about high blood pressure.

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It’s been known for a long time that high blood pressure may lead to cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s and other dementia later in life.

Doreen Sanchez, 62 was diagnosed with high blood pressure two years ago.

“My blood pressure was shooting up very high so I ended up in the hospital,” she said.

Now, a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association says high blood pressure during middle age is associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline later on.

“Having hypertension during midlife in 40s and 50s increases two to three times the risk of developing Alzheimer’s later in life,” neuroscientist Dr. Constantino Iadecola, Weill Cornell Medicine said.

Dr. Iadecola said hypertension could have serious consequences for the brain.

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“Hypertension is the worst thing that could happen to the brain. Less blood gets to the brain, because the vessels become thicker and less able to deliver the blood that the brain needs to function,” he said.

Health experts said more studies are needed to work out exactly how hypertension impacts brain function, but keeping your body fit and mind sharp may reduce the risk.

Sanchez said she tries to stay active.

“I walk, I do a lot of work around the house, in the yard. I’m busy,” she said.

High blood pressure is usually silent with no symptoms. It’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.

While diet, exercise, and weight loss help to lower blood pressure, hypertension often requires medication too.

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