New evidence that lowering blood pressure could help prevent dementia

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In a new study, researchers found that lowering blood pressure by taking blood pressure drugs reduces the risk of dementia and cognitive impairment by 7%.

Fourteen clinical trials (96,158 participants) were included in this systematic review and meta-analysis.

Blood pressure lowering with high blood pressure drugs reduced the risk of developing dementia or cognitive impairment by 7%, and cognitive decline also by 7% over a four-year period.

The research was conducted by a team at the National University of Ireland Galway.

Dementia is common in the population (50 million people worldwide), and effective treatment and control of hypertension would have a major impact on preventing dementia.

This study aimed to gather all the evidence from previous trials of blood pressure lowering medications and estimate how much the risk of dementia can be reduced by taking blood pressure lowering medications in people who are diagnosed with high blood pressure.

The findings emphasize the need for more effective screening, prevention, and treatment of hypertension, which remains suboptimal in Ireland.

Blood pressure lowering reduces the risk of stroke and heart disease. The team says prevention of dementia can now be added to the benefits of treating hypertension.

Importantly, there are no available therapies that directly prevent dementia, so this study highlights the critical importance of blood pressure in the risk of dementia.

The message from this study is simple: Get your blood pressure checked. If it is high, it can be readily treated with lifestyle changes and medications.

The researchers hope that this study will heighten awareness of the importance of controlling blood pressure to maintain brain health, combined with a healthy lifestyle.

One author of the study is Dr. Conor Judge, Wellcome Trust Health Research Board Irish Clinical Academic Training (ICAT) fellow.

The study is published in JAMA.

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