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Clinic Visit

Brain Imaging and Blood Pressure

The next ARIC clinical visit will include important imaging opportunities along with a special focus on blood pressure. We’ll ask you to consider participating in a brain MRI and a brain PET scan, which can produce useful information about your brain and its health. You’ll also be able to learn different and more accurate ways of taking your blood pressure.

Pictures of the Brain

What is the difference between an MRI and a PET scan?
A brain MRI uses magnets, while a brain PET scan uses x-rays, along with a safe ‘marker’ injected in your arm, to get pictures of your brain. An MRI shows structural changes, including strokes and other injuries. PET scans can show if there is buildup of abnormal proteins.

Why are we studying brain images?
We can compare results from these scans to how you did on previous memory and thinking tests. This will help us understand risk factors for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and help identify factors that might protect against memory and thinking problems.

Why are we doing this again?
I already had an MRI or a PET scan. Some of you have already had a brain MRI, a PET scan, or both. We are so appreciative of your past participation. Having several scans will help us understand how the brain changes over time. We also hope to learn more about the main risk factors – and protective factors – for changes in the brain.

Three Ways to Take Blood Pressure

During your clinic visit we’ll describe a unique blood pressure study that checks your blood pressure three different ways. One measurement will check readings in several positions (seated, lying down, and standing). Another will record your blood pressure repeatedly over a full 24-hours, including during sleep. Finally, you will learn how to accurately check your own blood pressure in the morning and evening at your own home.

By checking blood pressure in these ways, our team of researchers will learn about your blood pressure patterns in many different situations throughout the day and night. This study not only has the potential to impact how you manage your blood pressure but also how our entire health care system views and manages this critical health measure!