Lowering blood pressure to a healthy range may result in a reduction in dementia, memory loss, and other forms of cognitive decline. In a new study, researchers lowered patients systolic blood pressure to 120 mmHg and found that they were 19% less likely to develop mild cognitive development that commonly precedes Alzheimer’s, and 15% less likely to later display dementia and cognitive decline.
These results were generated from large blood pressure trial called the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT), a dataset that has already found blood pressure management to be associated with cardiovascular and kidney diseases. These earlier results from the SPRINT study led to the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology lowering their standard for high blood pressure from 140 mmHg to 130 mmHg.
In this study, the researchers used 9,000 patients with cardiovascular issues and reduced their blood pressure to a certain level, some below 120 mmHg, others only below 140. This reduction was achieved in a number of ways, including exercise and diet changes, as well as use of medication.
New Framingham study shows persistence of high blood pressure from mid to late life almost doubles risk of dementia and Alzheimers. High blood pressure is fixable, but needs to be fixed in mid-life, can’t wait. https://t.co/Oci0ys1YJW
— Walter J. Koroshetz (@NINDSdirector) January 10, 2018
This study focused on mild cognitive development rather than Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, however the researchers state that these results are still very relevant to both populations. The current 5.7 million Alzheimer’s patients in the U.S. is expected to rise to 14 million by 2050. With 15 years passing since the last Alzheimer’s drug was conceived, these findings mark blood pressure as a potential area of interest when creating new treatments.
Another study published earlier this month in Neurology researchers autopsied 1,200 older adults to analyze cognitive impairment and compared with data on cardiovascular health. They found found that high blood pressure later in life is associated with increased risks of Alzheimer’s, further supporting blood pressure management in treating the disease. The Alzheimer’s Association plans to expand this research in a study looking into how lowered blood pressure, better nutrition, and cognitive exercise can impact the progression of Alzheimer’s.