Blood pressure medications may cut dementia risk

Blood pressure medications may cut dementia risk

Your blood pressure medication may have an unexpected benefit: it could lower your risk of developing dementia and cognitive decline.

In an analysis of randomized, controlled trials, researchers in Ireland found that reducing blood pressure with medication also dropped the risk of mental impairment. The findings were published in JAMA.

Researchers say the study results are especially encouraging because there are no treatments that directly prevent dementia.

Researchers at the National University of Ireland reviewed the results of 14 studies of blood pressure-reducing medications, which involved a total of more than 96,000 people. Then, they compared the dementia indications among the people in the study to the various medications they were taking. Looking over a four-year period, they found that lowering blood pressure through medications reduced the risk of developing dementia and cognitive decline by 7%.

The results may present an opportunity to address two serious disorders at once. Some 50 million people around the world have high blood pressure, and lowering blood pressure can reduce the likelihood of heart disease and stroke. One study has found that up to two-thirds of people over age 50 have hypertension and half of that group are unaware of their condition.

Worldwide, about the same number of people, 50 million, have some form of dementia. The World Health Organization says about 10 million new cases are diagnosed each year.

The takeaway message is simple: Keep a close watch on your blood pressure and take medications and make lifestyle changes as directed to keep it in check. In turn, you might also be keeping dementia at bay.

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