Older adults with low blood pressure are less likely to develop dementia compared to those with high blood pressure, latest research has suggested.
A study conducted by the George Institute for Global Health has detected a clear link between low blood pressure and a reduced dementia risk in later life.
Chief author Dr Ruth Peters said: “Given population ageing and the substantial costs of caring for people with dementia, even a small reduction could have considerable global impact.
“Our study suggests that using readily available treatments to lower blood pressure is currently one of our ‘best bets’ to tackle this insidious disease.”
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Approximately 50 million people around the globe currently have dementia, with the number set to increase by 30% over the next 30 years.
Scientists have previously examined how lowering blood pressure can trigger health benefits, but not many have focused solely on its relationship with dementia.
Dr Peters 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.”
During the study, the team of researchers analysed the health outcomes of more than 28,000 individuals who were using different medications to lower their blood pressure. All the participants had previously suffered from high blood pressure.
Dr Peters said: “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 results imply a broadly linear relationship between blood pressure reduction and lower risk of dementia, regardless of which type of treatment was used.”
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She added: “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.”
Fellow author Professor Craig Anderson said: “This work is an important foundation for clinical trials to provide reliable estimates of the benefits and risks of preventative treatments, and how best to apply them across different populations.”
The study has been published in the journal European Heart Journal.