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Dementia and High Blood Pressure

Dementia affects all areas of your life, from medical to social to economic. Dementia can impact you, your family, and the people around you. Increased attention and resources have been directed towards understanding possible causes of dementia and treatment.

There is evidence that hypertension is associated with dementia. The relationship between dementia and hypertension seems to be directly related to blood pressure levels.

Study # 1

Over 1400 women 65 years old comprise a subset of participants enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative. They followed for eight years. MRI scans revealed that there was an increase in white matter lesions in women with hypertension. White matter lesions indicate poor insulation around the nerve cells necessary for brain communication.

Study # 2

Another study conducted by Johns Hopkins University monitored 983 middle-aged or older men and women for over 15 years. Similar results were found in relation to white matter lesions. Larger brain damage is seen with high blood pressure.

Future investigation

Currently, the relationship between BP and high dementia is unclear. Some studies have shown hypertension treatment to reduce the risk of dementia and others have not found a link. The National Institutes of Health is preparing a study that will study 7500 patients with hypertension aged 55 or older. The goal is to evaluate whether or not aggressive treatment to lower systolic BP below 120 mmHg would be healthier compared to systolic levels below 140 or 130 mmHg.

Blood pressure guidelines

The Joint National Committee defines BP below 120/80 mmHg as normal and BP between 120-139 / 80-89 mmHg to pre-hypertension. You do not want to ignore pre-hypertension. In this environment BP medication may not be necessary as you will be able to make changes in diet and lifestyle to lower levels back to normal in many cases.

5 Steps to Lower Blood Pressure

Here are five steps you can take now to lower your blood pressure:

  1. Stop smoking

  2. Losing and / or maintaining a healthy weight

  3. Reduce sodium intake to less than 2400 mg / day (new guidelines indicate larger restrictions are ideal)

  4. Limit alcohol to less than 1 drink / day for women and 2 drinks or less per day for men

  5. Exercise 30 or more minutes daily

  6. Take foods high in fruits and vegetables, such as Diet Diet to Stop High Blood Pressure (DASH) to lower blood pressure.


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