How To Avoid Dementia: Keep Blood Pressure Normal, Study Says

Managing hypertension can help reduce your risk of developing dementia. That is according to a new study that discovered the link between healthy levels of blood pressure and cognitive functions. 

Researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) found that intensive control of blood pressure could help slow down the production of lesions in the brain's white matter. Such lesions indicate changes in the brain that have been linked to mental decline and dementia.

Maintaining normal blood pressure "significantly reduced white matter lesion accumulation in people who had a higher chance of experiencing this kind of damage because they had high blood pressure," Clinton Wright, lead researcher and director of the Division of Clinical Research at NINDS, said in a statement. 

Having an intensive blood pressure control could also help reduce the loss of the brain's volume, particularly in men. The findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, come from the analysis of brain scans of nearly 9,300 people aged 50 years and older with high blood pressure. 

The latest study supports previous research that discovered intensive high blood pressure treatment could significantly reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment, which may lead to dementia, CBS News reported Tuesday

Walter Koroshetz, director of NINDS, said there is growing evidence showing that a controlled blood pressure could help prevent stroke, heart disease and age-related cognitive loss. 

“I strongly urge people to know your blood pressure and discuss with your doctors how to optimize control,” he said. “It may be a key to your future brain health.”

The NINDS researchers aim to conduct another study to see how controlling blood pressure may affect white matter lesions in critical regions of the brain, including the areas directly affected by age-related health conditions. The team also wants to determine the factors that may help improve a person’s response to high blood pressure treatment.

"These findings on white matter lesions — primarily in the aggressive control of blood pressure — are encouraging as we continue to advance the science of understanding and addressing the complexities of brain diseases such as Alzheimer's and related dementias," Richard Hodes, director of the U.S. National Institute on Aging, said. 

senior Health experts expect to see more people with dementia over the coming years, with the current rate of one individual developing the condition every 65 seconds in the U.S. Pixabay