On top of reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, aggressive treatment of high blood pressure has shown effectiveness in mitigating risk of mild cognitive impairment. Mild cognitive impairment is viewed as a potential precursor to Alzheimer’s and dementia. A study showed that when treating patients to reduce systolic blood pressure below 120, as opposed to below 140, the past standard target, the risk of mild cognitive impairment was reduced by 19% comparatively.
The study began in 2010, studied more than 9,300 patients with high blood pressure, and was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The study focused on improving heart health, but also resulted in findings related to cognitive ability. It is believed that the improvement of memory is caused by a reduction of undetected mini strokes in the brain, according to Dr. Knopman.
For more aggressive treatment, patients were taking an average of 2.8 medications daily compared to 1.8 daily in the less intensive treatment group. Memory tests were administered to the patients to assess their cognitive ability. These tests included task such as hearing a list of words and listing as many as they could recall.
These findings provide promising insight into how to reduce future cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Reducing risk is the first step in preventing these occurrences, and is not possible without knowing your numbers. Go get your blood pressure checked today!