A new study has found that low blood pressure may reduce the risk of developing a brain disorder that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. One in three American adults have high blood pressure and only half are under control.
Lead author of the study, Dr. Jeff Williamson of the Wake Forest School of Medicine, qualified the results of the jump. “For the first time in history we can say that what is good for the heart is also good for the brain in terms of anti-hypertensive treatment,” Williamson said.
The study investigated the effects of increased blood pressure control and the risks of developing mild cognitive impairment. It is at the point that people develop thinking and planning problems while still being able to perform their daily tasks.
Researchers tracked about 9,000 people aged 50 or older for about three years and found that a more aggressive drop in blood pressure, lowering systolic blood pressure to less than 120 resulted in a reduction in blood pressure with 19% of mild cognitive deficit compared to less aggressive treatment with a number of 140. Approximately 75% of those over 65 go through hypertension.
Don Penny, a 63-year-old commercial photographer, has been using medication to treat hypertension and heart disease for about three years. He’s serious about keeping those numbers low.
“My blood pressure is at a very manageable level, 70 or 75 out of 120. So I’m in a good environment to have blood pressure,” Penny said.
The researchers did not see the same effect on dementia and said there were not adequate cases in the study. For this reason, the Alzheimer’s Association will fund the study for another two years. This gives physicians something concrete to discuss with patients who are concerned about changes in mental function.