Small brain bleeds tied to blood pressure
By Will Boggs, MD
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Brain "microbleeds," small bleeding sites in the brain detected with MRI that usually cause no immediate symptoms, are associated with an increase in blood pressure in patients who already have high blood pressure or "hypertension," new research suggests.
"Not only the heart and kidneys are important organs in hypertension...but also the brain should be searched for damage," including microbleeds, Dr. Leon H. G. Henskens told Reuters Health, although he noted that "current guidelines do not include the brain as a recommended target-organ."
As reported in the journal Hypertension, Henskens and associates from Maastricht University assessed the relationship between brain microbleeds visualized on MRI in 218 hypertensive patients and blood pressure, which was measured while the participants were off their blood pressure medications.
At least one microbleed was detected in 35 participants (16.1 percent), the authors report. Brain microbleeds were associated with higher blood pressures, including those recorded at night, the report indicates.
Henskens' group is currently performing a 2-year follow-up of these patients to see if "treatment of hypertension influences the occurrence of new microbleeds."
SOURCE: Hypertension, January 2008.