Blood Pressure and Dementia are Connected
People tend to categorize diseases by which of the bodies systems they affect: there are heart diseases, such as such as arrhythmias and coronary artery disease; there are cancers; there are cognitive diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. But the truth is that the body is a giant system, and a disease that seems to fall in one realm often impact another. That’s precisely the case with high blood pressure and dementia.
A study published in the European Heart Journal uncovered associations between elevated blood pressure and dementia in people between the ages of 50 and 70. The study followed more than 8000 people, ages 33-55 at the beginning of the study, testing their blood pressure over the following eighteen years. None of the participants had any sign of dementia at the beginning of the study, but by 2017, nearly 400 had developed at least mild dementia. The average age of onset of dementia was 75.
The researchers analyzed the results, and found that those with dementia had higher blood pressure — more than 25 years earlier.
To be more precise, those with a systolic blood pressure reading of 130 or more as they approached age 50 had a nearly 50% higher rate of dementia than those with lower blood pressure. A systolic blood pressure reading of 130 is considered “borderline” high blood pressure; this study suggests that even this mild level of hypertension poses a significant risk of dementia in later life.
Although the mechanism for this correlation has not been determined, the researchers believe that even slightly elevated blood pressure might lead to small strokes, which can go unnoticed but nevertheless damage the brain.
The Alzheimer’s Association is currently funding a two-year clinical trial to see whether lifestyle changes — including reducing blood pressure — protect against dementia, as they do against heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. If so, we will finally have a way to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
At Atlantic Coast Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Lakewood, NJ, we follow health news so that we can offer our residents the best possible care. We provide care that is specifically designed to address the needs of individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other cognitive disorders.
For the safety and well-being of cognitively impaired residents, Atlantic Coast offers a separate secure unit. The wide corridors are homelike and easy to navigate, creating an environment with a sense of familiarity and security.
The Alzheimer’s unit caregivers are specially trained to care for memory impaired residents. With their extra sensitivity and understanding of the condition and its impact, our caregivers treat each resident with dignity and love.
The cognitively impaired care program helps patients maximize their cognitive function. Likewise, the activities program is designed to foster social interaction and an appreciation of life.
For patients in more advanced stages, innovative sensory therapies such as audiovisual stimuli and aromatherapy are beneficial in inducing a sense of calm.
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