A new study finds that knowing you have higher blood pressure than normal — and taking medications daily to treat it — may be one of the keys to avoiding dementia later in life.
Study co-author Ruth Peters, associate professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia, said by email that scientists already know that high blood pressure, especially between the ages of 40 and 65, increases the risk of dementia later in life.
But, she added, the research wasn’t clear about whether lowering blood pressure in the elderly would reduce this risk.
Peters, who is also a senior research scientist at Neuroscience Research Australia, a nonprofit research organization, said.
Blood pressure is measured in units of millimeters of mercury (abbreviated as mmHg), and it consists of two numbers: the top reading, or systolic, which represents the maximum pressure in your arteries, and the bottom reading, or diastolic, which shows the pressure in your arteries. Arteries are when the heart muscle is at rest between beats.
the study, Published this week in the European Heart Journaldata pooled from five large random Double-blind clinical trials of more than 28,000 older adults with an average age of 69 from 20 countries. All of them had a history of high blood pressure.
Each clinical trial compared people taking blood pressure medications with People who took an identical placebo pill and followed it for an average of 4.3 years. When compiling the data, Peters and her team found a decrease of about 10 mm/Hg on systolic pressure and 4 mm/Hg. On diastolic blood pressure readings at 12 months, significantly reduced the risk of a dementia diagnosis.
In addition, there was a broad linear relationship: As blood pressure decreased, cognitive risk also decreased, which remained true to at least 100 mm/Hg systolic and 70 mm/Hg diastolic, according to the study. There was also no indication that blood pressure medications might harm blood flow to the brain at a later age.
When gender, age, or history of stroke was taken into account, there was no difference in the outcome.
“We know that what we do throughout life is likely to have an impact on brain health in late life,” Peters said. “So the best advice we can give is to lead a healthy lifestyle at all ages, and of course, if you are prescribed medications to control your blood pressure to take as instructed by your doctor.”
Lifestyle changes can add to or, in some cases, replace the need for high blood pressure medications. According to the American Heart Association. Suggested actions include limiting alcohol intake, managing stress, quitting smoking, eating a balanced, low-salt diet, getting plenty of exercise and sleep, and taking blood pressure medications as directed.
Research shows such changes can work. Study 2021 It was found that diet, exercise and reduced salt intake also Low blood pressure in people with resistant hypertensionHigh blood pressure that does not respond to medication.
In one 16-week study published in 2018people who followed a low-salt diet, exercised and practiced weight management techniques (such as watching portion sizes) lowered their blood pressure on average. 16 mmHg systolic and 10 mmHg diastolic, American Heart Association He said.
The diet used was the DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Award-Winning Eating PlanDASH has a simple premise: Eat more vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy. limit foods rich in saturated fats; Limit your sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams a day — about 1 teaspoon of table salt.
The DASH meal plan includes four to six servings of vegetables and another four to six servings of fruit; three servings of whole grain products; Two to four servings of fat-free or low-fat Dairy products; and several servings of each of lean meats, nuts, seeds, and legumes each day.
However, if lifestyle changes have not significantly lowered blood pressure within six months, The American Heart Association recommends Adding prescribed medications to treat high blood pressure while continuing to follow healthy behaviors.
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