Blood pressure variability and structural brain changes: a systematic review

Daria S. Gutteridge, Phillip J. Tully, Erica S. Ghezzi, Sharna Jamadar, Ashleigh E. Smith, Toby Commerford, Hannah A.D. Keage

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background:Blood pressure variability (BPV) has been linked with cognitive impairment and dementia. However, the pathophysiological mechanisms by which BPV affects cognition are unclear. This systematic review aims to assess the links between different BPV measures and white and grey matter structures.Methods and results:The following databases were searched from inception through to January 2021; EMBASE, MEDLINE, EMCARE and SCOPUS. Studies that reported on the relationship between within-individual BPV (short, medium or long-term variability) or a circadian blood pressure (BP) measurement and MRI assessed brain structures were included. Overall, 20 studies met the criteria and were included, of which 11 studies looked at short-term BPV, eight articles investigated visit-to-visit BPV and one study looked at a compositional BPV measurement. Due to heterogeneity in study samples, meta-analysis was not possible. Across the included studies, associations between MRI indices and BP dipping patterns were mixed; higher long-term BPV and higher sleep systolic BPV was found to be associated with lower whole brain volume and hippocampal volume.Conclusion:Increased BPV, in particular systolic long-term and systolic night-time BPV, appears to be associated with lower brain volume and hippocampal volume. This highlights the adverse effect that increased BPV has upon the brain, potentially contributing to cognitive decline, including dementia, in late-life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1060-1070
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Hypertension
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022


  • ambulatory blood pressure monitor
  • brain imaging
  • hippocampus
  • MRI
  • nocturnal dipping

Cite this