In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers found a high level of blood pressure variability (BPV) in older adults, particularly in men, is linked to an increased risk of dementia and cognitive decline.
The findings may identify people at increased risk of major cognitive impairment, allowing for triage into heightened surveillance, and point the way to new areas for research.
The study is from Monash University. One author is Associate Professor Joanne Ryan.
The paper is one of many important health findings yielded from the ASPREE (Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly) dataset.
The primary prevention aspirin trial released the main results to global acclaim in 2018.
Further analysis of the extensive, high-quality data from 19,114 Australian and Americans, continues to drive new findings in healthy older adults, mostly over the age of 70.
Hypertension—systemic high blood pressure—in mid-life has previously been shown to be a strong predictor of dementia in later life.
More recently, data has shown that more granular short and long-term fluctuations in blood pressure (BPV) are also an indicator of cognitive decline.
However, most studies investigating BPV involved younger people, older people already diagnosed with cognitive impairment, or used a single cognitive assessment tool to gauge cognitive acuity.
In the study, blood pressure was recorded for 16,758 participants during their annual visits and was done so in accordance with guidelines from the American Heart Foundation.
BPV was generally higher among women than men, but cognitive scores were similar across participants with low, medium and high BPV.
Over time, differences emerged. Those in the highest BPV group were shown to be at a strongly increased risk of dementia and cognitive decline compared with those in the lowest BPV group. Being male also increased the risk greatly.
The findings support the earlier results that had suggested BPV may be a useful indicator of cognitive decline, expanding our understanding to include older, relatively healthy adults who had reached late-life without significant cognitive impairment—a group that is not typically considered at high risk for dementia in their remaining lifespan.
The results also provide the first evidence of possible sex‐specific effects of BPV on cognition.
The biological mechanisms underpinning the relationship between BPV and cognitive decline remain unclear, and the researchers say this should be a focus of a further investigation.
If you care about dementia, please read studies about lowering blood pressure could help prevent dementia and findings of many dementia cases can be prevented by avoiding these 12 things.
For more information about dementia and your health, please see recent studies about this common mental issue could be a sign of high dementia risk and results showing that scientists discover a new form of dementia.
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