Maine University logoA prior study possibly revealed a correlation between obesity, salt sensitivity and high blood pressure. In this latest study led by the University of Maine, psychologists and epidemiologists affirm an indirect link between high blood pressure and reduced physical ability by way of lowered cognition. They also ascertained blood pressure to be directly linked with physical ability.

All the study participants are actually recruited by a larger and ongoing Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study. By utilizing a comprehensive battery of cognitive and physical tests in conjunction with blood pressure monitoring, the authors were able to identify the relationships. The scientists also employed a path analysis during the study. Basically the path analysis is ascertained to be a statistical procedure for calculating plausibility of a set of hypothesized relations among variables without predicting causality.

Professor Pete Elias (Merrill F. Elias), professor of psychology and cooperating professor in the UMaine Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and a leading researcher in cardiovascular risk factors and cognitive function said, “We found that blood pressure-related deficits in cognitive functioning result in deficits in simple physical abilities, such as standing, walking and turning, which means cognition mediates between blood pressure and physical ability. However, blood pressure also relates directly to physical ability.”

It has been highlighted by Elias that previous analysis depicted people with an increased level of mental ability to have a tendency to be healthier and engage in physical activity. It also reveals that certain areas of the brain controlling cognition may control physical activity too. He further cautioned that individuals facing problems with cognition share an elevated risk of developing problems with simple physical abilities.

The study is published in the June 2010 issue of Hypertension, a journal of the American Heart Association.