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BACKGROUND: Hypertension is a well-established risk factor for cognitive impairment, brain atrophy, and dementia. However, the relationship of other types of hypertensions, such as isolated hypertension on brain health and its comparison to systolic-diastolic hypertension (where systolic and diastolic measures are high), is still relatively unknown. Due to its increased prevalence, it is important to investigate the impact of isolated hypertension to help understand its potential impact on cognitive decline and future dementia risk. In this study, we compared a variety of global brain measures between participants with isolated hypertension to those with normal blood pressure (BP) or systolic-diastolic hypertension using the largest cohort of healthy individuals. METHODS: Using the UK Biobank cohort, we carried out a cross-sectional study using 29,775 participants (mean age 63 years, 53% female) with BP measurements and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data. We used linear regression models adjusted for multiple confounders to compare a variety of global, subcortical, and white matter brain measures. We compared participants with either isolated systolic or diastolic hypertension with normotensives and then with participants with systolic-diastolic hypertension. RESULTS: The results showed that participants with isolated systolic or diastolic hypertension taking BP medications had smaller gray matter but larger white matter microstructures and macrostructures compared to normotensives. Isolated systolic hypertensives had larger total gray matter and smaller white matter traits when comparing these regions with participants with systolic-diastolic hypertension. CONCLUSIONS: These results provide support to investigate possible preventative strategies that target isolated hypertension as well as systolic-diastolic hypertension to maintain brain health and/or reduce dementia risk earlier in life particularly in white matter regions.

Original publication




Journal article


Brain behav

Publication Date



brain health, hypertension, isolated hypertension