New research shows controlling blood pressure just might be the best protection known against dementia. Somehow, factors like hypertension - blood pressure readings of 140 over 90 or higher - weaken arteries and seem to spur Alzheimer's disease-like processes. Research scientists scanned people's brains to show hypertension creates kind of a lesion or scarring linked to later development of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. Those scars can start building up in middle age, before memory problems will appear. Age is the largest risk factor for Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia that affect about one in eight people 65 or older. MRI scans showed women 65 and older with high blood pressure had significantly more white matter lesions in their brains eight years later. The study included 1,403 women who were enrolled in a memory subset of the landmark Women's Health Initiative that tracked postmenopausal health. The higher their blood pressure, the higher volume of white matter damage is seen. White matter acts as the brain's telephone network, a system of axons, or nerve fibers, that allow brain cells to communicate with each other. Even slightly elevated blood pressure can damage the tiny blood vessels that nourish white matter, interrupting those signals. The journal Stroke published similar evidence from a Johns Hopkins University-led study that tracked 983 people for more than 15 years, starting in middle age. The longer people spent with uncontrolled high blood pressure, the more white matter damage they accumulated. The researchers could see a change with each 20-point jump in high systolic pressure, the top number in a blood-pressure reading. It is unknown whether hypertension alone causes dementia. Nearly one in three U.S. adults, have hypertension. If you think you have high blood pressure or you haven’t had yours tested in a while, see your doctor.  Yours in good health, Linda Hlivka Clinical Nutritionist