Taking blood pressure medicine can reduce the risk of dementia


Knowing you have higher-than-normal blood pressure — and taking medication every day — may be a key to preventing dementia later in life, a new study has found.

Scientists already know that having high blood pressure, especially between the ages of 40 and 65, increases the risk of developing dementia later in life, study author Ruth Peters, an associate professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia, said by email.

But he added that research is less clear about whether lowering blood pressure in older adults would reduce that risk.

“What’s so exciting about our study is that the data show that people who were taking blood pressure-lowering medication had a lower risk of being diagnosed with dementia than those who were taking a placebo,” said Peters, who is the lead researcher. Neuroscience Research Australia, a not-for-profit research organisation.

Blood pressure is measured in units of millimeters of mercury (abbreviated as mmHg), consisting of two numbers: the upper or systolic reading, which represents the maximum pressure in the arteries, and the lower, or diastolic, reading, which shows your pressure. arteries when your heart muscle is at rest between beats.

The study, published this week in the European Heart Journal, combined data from five large randomized trials. Double-blind clinical trials in over 28,000 adults with a median age of 69 in 20 countries. All had a history of hypertension.

Each clinical trial compared people taking blood pressure medication people were followed for an average of 4.3 years after taking the matching placebo pill. Pooling the data, Peters and his team found a decrease of about 10 mm/Hg in systolic and 4 mm/Hg in heart rate. Diastolic blood pressure readings at 12 months significantly reduced the risk of dementia diagnosis.

In addition, there was a broad linear relationship: As blood pressure fell, so did cognitive risk, and this was true up to at least 100 mm/Hg systolic and 70 mm/Hg diastolic, the study said. Also, there was no evidence that blood pressure medication can impair blood flow to the brain later in life.

When sex, age, or history of stroke were taken into account, there was no difference in outcome.

“We know that what we do throughout life will affect brain health later in life,” Peters said. “So the best advice we can give is to lead a healthy lifestyle at all ages, and of course if you are prescribed medication to control your blood pressure, take it according to your doctor’s instructions.”

Lifestyle changes can add to or replace the need for high blood pressure medication in some cases, according to the American Heart Association. Suggested actions include limiting alcohol, managing stress, quitting smoking, eating a balanced, low-salt diet, getting plenty of exercise and sleep, and taking blood pressure medication as prescribed.

Research shows such changes can work A 2021 study found that diet, exercise, and lower salt intake also reduced blood pressure in people with resistant hypertension, which is high blood pressure that doesn’t respond to medication.

In a 16-week study published in 2018, people who followed a low-salt diet, exercised, and practiced weight management techniques (such as watching portion sizes) had lower blood pressure on average. 16 mmHg systolic and 10 mmHg diastolic, American Heart Association he said

The diet used was the DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. An award-winning eating plan, DASH has a simple premise: eat more vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products; limit foods high in saturated fat; and limit sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day; that’s a teaspoon of table salt.

The DASH meal plan includes four to six servings of vegetables and four to six servings of fruit; three servings of whole foods; two to four servings of fat-free or low-fat dairy products; and multiple servings of meat and nuts, seeds, and legumes each day.

However, if lifestyle changes don’t significantly lower blood pressure within six months, the American Heart Association recommends adding prescription high blood pressure medication while continuing healthy behaviors.