It is well known and accepted that hypertension increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. But, did you know that it also can increase your risk for Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease? You’re surprised, right? That’s because few long-term studies have examined the effect of high blood pressure with memory loss and cognitive decline.
However, a new study has changed that landscape by showing a strong link between hypertension and dementia in middle aged and seniors.
Hypertension: New Study Results
In this new study, researchers tracked the blood pressure patterns of 4,700 people for 24 years, starting from mid- to late in life.
The participants who had hypertension ( defined as a reading of 140/90 or higher) at midlife (ages 44 to 66) and later in life (ages 66 to 90) had a 49 percent increased risk of developing dementia, compared to those whose blood pressure stayed in the normal range.
The data suggest that controlling blood pressure throughout life has a greater impact on lowering dementia risk than regular exercise or a healthy diet.
Of note, the dementia risk increases to 62 percent in the group who had high blood pressure in midlife, followed by low pressure in their senior years.
Hypertension: Why The Increased Dementia Risk?
Hypertension harms the blood vessels in your body, especially in your brain. And, it prevents enough blood to circulate throughout your body and brain. Consequently, damaged blood vessels can’t dilate or constrict in response to blood pressure changes. As a result, mini-strokes and arteriosclerosis develops.
And this insufficient blood flow can impair many cognitive functions — such as memory, language skills and processing information.
Consider These Preventive Measures
These researchers recommend that blood pressure should be monitored throughout life. Consistent exercise and a healthy diet can help keep your blood pressure at normal levels. Normal blood pressure is defined as 120/80.
If you still need medication, it becomes even more important to keep the level at the normal range. Fluctuating blood pressure levels in the senior years is a serious concern. Over medication can be just as bad as under-treatment. Therefore, stay in close contact with your physician.