In a new study, researchers found that more aggressively controlling daily blood pressure in older adults can improve their brain health.
The research was conducted by a team from UConn School of Medicine.
It’s been estimated that approximately two-thirds of people over the age of 75 may have damaged small blood vessels in the brain which are visible as bright white lesions on brain imaging.
Previous research evidence has linked increased amounts of these white matter lesions in the brain with cognitive decline, limited mobility such as a slower walking speed, increased incidence of falls and even increased stroke risk.
In the study, the team followed 199 hypertension patients 75 years of age and older for 3 years.
Throughout that time, the researchers tracked the potential benefits of using an intensive treatment regimen to garner a 24-hour systolic blood pressure target of less than 130 mmHg compared to standard control (approximately 145 mmHg).
They assessed the older adults’ mobility, cognitive function, their brain’s white matter progression with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and tracked the occurrence of any adverse events.
The researchers observe a big reduction in the accumulation of brain white matter disease in those receiving intensive treatment for blood pressure control.
The finding demonstrates that a lower ambulatory blood pressure goal for older adults is likely to conserve future brain function and health.
In fact, after three years, the accrual of white matter lesions in the brain was reduced by up to 40% in those patients receiving the intensive blood pressure therapy compared to those who were on standard therapy.
Further, study participants on intensive therapy had a lower rate of heart attack, stroke, and hospitalization from heart failure than those on standard therapy.
The team says that maintaining the systolic blood pressure of less than 130 mmHg is safe, and a reasonable and maybe more beneficial treatment goal for older adults with hypertension
Intensive treatment of hypertension reduces the progression of small blood vessel disease in the brain and significantly lowers patients’ risk of heart attacks and strokes.
The lead author of the study is Drs. William B. White of the Calhoun Cardiology Center and Leslie Wolfson of the Department of Neurology.
The study is published in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation.
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