How does high blood pressure affect the risk of dementia?
Even a slightly elevated middle-aged blood pressure can increase the risk of developing dementia by up to 45 percent. Healthy blood pressure is therefore important to significantly reduce the risk of developing dementia.
In their current study, scientists from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) in Paris and University College London found that increased blood pressure in middle age can massively increase the risk of developing dementia. The researchers published the results of their study in the English-language journal "European Heart Journal".
Should there be changes in the treatment of high blood pressure?
Examining data from nearly 9,000 subjects found that 50 year olds with blood pressure greater than 130/80 mmHg were at much greater risk of developing dementia later in life. In the UK alone, there are currently around seven million British people with blood pressure in excess of 140/90 mmHg, the study authors explain. Doctors usually advise those affected to take medication. Some experts say that the threshold for taking medication should be lowered to the level of 130/80 mmHg. If such a change were made, almost half of the adult population in the United Kingdom would be entitled to take such drugs, the scientists further explain.
At 50, the risk of dementia was increased by 45 percent
People with a so-called systolic blood pressure of 130 mmHg or more had a 45 percent higher risk of developing dementia at the age of 50 compared to people with lower blood pressure values at the same age, the researchers explain. The increased risk found is probably due to the time that people already had high blood pressure. Elevated blood pressure at the age of 50 means that people are exposed to increased risks of dementia longer than people who develop hypertension at the age of 60 or 70.
What can trigger high blood pressure?
High blood pressure has already been linked to mini-strokes, white matter damage to the brain, and reduced blood flow to the brain, resulting in mental decline, the scientists say.
Subjects were medically monitored for 32 years
For their study, the doctors analyzed the data of the participants in the so-called Whitehall II study, who were between 35 and 55 years old in 1985. The subjects were medically monitored for a period of 32 years.
Midlife hypertension has harmful effects
Current research confirms the harmful effects of so-called midlife hypertension on the risk of dementia, explains study author Professor Archana Singh-Manoux from INSERM. The results indicate that the risk of dementia in people can be increased at the age of 50 if the person has elevated systolic blood pressure, which is still below the threshold commonly used to treat high blood pressure, the expert adds.
What is the risk in older people with high blood pressure
The current analysis suggests that the importance of high blood pressure in middle age for brain health is due to the duration of exposure. The increased risk was found in people who had high blood pressure by the age of 50, but not by people with high blood pressure at 60 or 70. This is because people with hypertension at age 50 are likely to be at increased risk for longer.
See a doctor if you have problems with your blood pressure
There is considerable discussion about the optimal threshold for diagnosing hypertension, explains study author Dr. Jessica Abell from University College London. There is much evidence that maintaining healthy middle-aged blood pressure is important for the heart and brain later in life. If you are now starting to worry about your blood pressure, you should contact your family doctor. (as)