Posted on May 22, 2020, 2 p.m.
According to research from HUI Galway published in JAMA lowering blood pressure by taking blood pressure medications may reduce the risk of developing dementia and cognitive impairment by 7%.
This systematic review and meta analysis included 14 randomised controlled trials that involved 96,158 participants; taking antihypertensive medication to lower blood pressure reduced the risk of developing dementia or cognitive impairment by 7%, and cognitive decline by 7% over a four year period.
"When you consider how common dementia is in the population (50 million people worldwide), effective treatment and control of hypertension would have a major impact on preventing dementia. Our findings emphasize the need for more effective screening, prevention, and treatment of hypertension, which remains suboptimal in Ireland," explains Dr. Conor Judge, joint first author and Wellcome Trust Health Research Board Irish Clinical Academic Training (ICAT) fellow. "We know from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging that two thirds of people aged over 50 in Ireland have hypertension (high blood pressure), of which half are unaware of the diagnosis, and one third are not on treatment. This is a major care gap."
This study was designed to gather and evaluate evidence from previous trials of blood pressure lowering medications to estimate if the risk of dementia can be reduced by taking these medications in those who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. Blood pressure lowering reduces the risk of stroke and heart disease, prevention of dementia can now be added to the benefits of treating hypertension according to the researchers.
There are no therapies that can directly prevent dementia, this study brings attention to the importance of blood pressure in the risk of dementia. "Prevention of dementia is a major health priority. We know from previous research that a major concern of older people is developing dementia. The message from this study is simple: Get your blood pressure checked. If it is high, it can be readily treated with lifestyle changes and medications. We would hope that our study will heighten awareness of the importance of controlling blood pressure to maintain "brain" health, combined with a healthy lifestyle,” said senior author Dr. Michelle Canavan, Consultant Geriatrician at Galway University Hospital.
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