Tackling high blood pressure cuts chances of dementia in later life, study finds

Tackling high blood pressure cuts chances of dementia in later life, study finds

People who have high blood pressure could be more likely to develop dementia in later life, according to a new study.

Researchers have found that tackling hypertension is the most effective way of preventing the disease, and suggested that the earlier it is tackled, the lower the chances are that person will develop symptoms.

A total of 28,008 participants took part in the study carried out in Australia, which presented the strongest global evidence for lowering blood pressure as a way to avoid having dementia.

The participants, who had an average age of 69, were selected from 20 different countries and all had a history of high blood pressure.

Researchers analysed five existing trials that utilised a range of different blood-pressure lowering treatments. They followed the progress of the patients until they developed dementia, on average being followed up around four years later.

Dr Ruth Peters, of the University of New South Wales, said in the European Heart Journal: “Given population ageing and the substantial costs of caring for people with dementia, even a small reduction could have a considerable global impact.

“Our study suggests available treatments to lower blood pressure are currently our ‘best bets’ to tackle this insidious disease.”

She said: “Most trials were stopped early because of the significant impact of blood pressure lowering on cardiovascular events, which tend to occur earlier than signs of dementia.

“We found there was a significant effect of treatment in lowering the odds of dementia associated with a sustained reduction in blood pressure in this older population.

“Our study provides the highest grade of available evidence to show that blood pressure lowering treatment over several years reduces the risk of dementia, and we did not see any evidence of harm.

“But what we still don’t know is whether additional blood pressure lowering in people who already have it well-controlled or starting treatment earlier in life would reduce the long-term risk of dementia.”