How long blood pressure stays in normal range may predict your dementia risk

Credit: CDC / Unsplash

A recent study from Beijing Anzhen Hospital and elsewhere found the longer a person’s blood pressure levels remain under control, the lower their risk may be for dementia.

The findings add to evidence suggesting that good heart and brain health is best achieved by keeping systolic blood pressure (the upper number) consistently under control, compared to having levels that vary, even if the average falls within the target range.

Nearly half of U.S. adults have high blood pressure, according to AHA statistics.

Of those, only about 1 in 5 have their condition under control, which can be done with regular exercise and a healthy diet, and possibly medication.

Previous studies have linked uncontrolled high blood pressure, also called hypertension, to a greater risk for dementia and cognitive decline.

Whether a person’s blood pressure is considered under control is often defined by the most current measurement. However, blood pressure levels can fluctuate over time, even throughout the day.

In the current study, the team examines the link between the length of time systolic blood pressure levels remain in range and the risk of cognitive decline or dementia.

They analyzed data for 8,415 people in the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial, or SPRINT, which compared intensive treatment to standard treatment of systolic blood pressure among people with hypertension.

The target range for intensive control was defined as 110 to 130 mmHg and the standard control target range was defined as 120 to 140 mmHg.

(Normal blood pressure is defined as a systolic reading of less than 120 and a diastolic reading – the bottom number – of less than 80.)

Blood pressure was measured at the beginning of the study and once a month for the first three months of follow-up.

Participants, who were an average 68 years old, were free of cognitive decline or dementia at the start of the study.

During a follow-up of five years, the team showed people whose systolic blood pressure levels remained in the target range longer were less likely to be diagnosed with probable dementia.

Each 31.5% increase of time in the target range was associated with a 16% lower dementia risk.

This study clarified that time in the target range has an incremental value beyond mean systolic blood pressure and systolic blood pressure variability.

The team says tracking how long blood pressure is kept under control could help healthcare providers find patients at higher risk of dementia.

The study was conducted by Sitong Li et al.

If you care about dementia, please read studies about Vitamin B9 deficiency linked to higher dementia risk, and flavonoid-rich foods could help prevent dementia.

For more information about health, please see recent studies that cranberries could help boost memory, and this common plant nutrient could help reduce high blood pressure.

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