High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a growing health problem in many parts of the world that serves as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke. In addition, new evidence is emerging on a significant association between high blood pressure and vascular dementia, which is the second most common type of dementia, after Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers at The George Institute for Global Health in the UK analyzed the medical records of over four million people, and found a 62 percent increased risk for vascular dementia in those between the ages of 30-50 who had elevated blood pressure. In those between the ages of 51-70, there was a 26 percent increased risk for vascular dementia. In lieu of these findings, Professor Rahimi of The George Institute, said “Our results suggest that lowering blood pressure, either by exercise, diet or blood pressure lowering drugs, could reduce the risk of vascular dementia.”
Vascular dementia is caused by reduced blood flow to the brain due to damaged and stiffened blood vessels, and affects about 1.26 million Americans. Over time, less blood flow can cause various brain regions to atrophy, which accelerates cognitive decline. Preventative care and treatment of hypertension are subsequently of critical importance in minimizing the risk for developing vascular dementia as we age.
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Association of Ideal Cardiovascular Health With Vascular Brain Injury and Incident Dementia, Matthew P. Pase, PhD; Alexa Beiser, PhD; Danielle Enserro, MA; Vanessa Xanthakis, PhD; Hugo Aparicio, MD; Claudia L. Satizabal, PhD; Jayandra J. Himali, PhD; Carlos S. Kase, MD; Ramachandran S. Vasan, MD; Charles DeCarli, MD; Sudha Seshadri, MD, Stroke, doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.115.012608, published online 12 April 2016.