Managing your blood pressure could help keep dementia at bay according to Australian and international research.
A study by UNSW Sydney Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing involving data from 34,519 people has shown treating high blood pressure (hypertension) in people over 60 reduces the risk of dementia.
Even people in their 70s and 80s are at lower risk of dementia if hypertension is treated.
High blood pressure affects more than one billion people worldwide and is the most prevalent risk factor for dementia.
Approximately 57 million people currently live with the condition and this figures is anticipated to rise to 153 million by the year 2050.
A study, the largest of its kind to date, used data from 15 different countries including Australia, USA, Brazil, China, Italy, Central African Republic and Nigeria.
The study of individuals older than 60 showed those with treated hypertension had a 26 per cent lower risk of dementia compared to those who were untreated and risk was substantially reduced in the treated group in those older than 65,75 and 85.
The research also aimed to understand how age, sex and race might change the association between blood pressure, antihypertensive use and dementia.
Dr Matt Lennon, a medical doctor and lead author on the study, said the findings were critical for general practitioners and family physicians, who are most commonly at the coal face of blood pressure management.
"We know that mid-life hypertension increases risk of all types of dementia by around 60 per cent and Alzheimer's disease by 25 per cent," said Dr Lennon.
The study identified that in late life, people with unmedicated hypertension have a significantly elevated risk of dementia compared to those with medicated hypertension and healthy individuals. It also indicated there are no significant differences in the effect of blood pressure or antihypertensive use in different sexes or racial groups.
"This is a valuable addition to the literature as it crystallises a grey area in dementia prevention," says Dr Lennon.
Co-Director of CHeBA and co-author on the research, Professor Perminder Sachdev, said the findings indicate that ongoing antihypertensive therapy throughout late life was an important part of dementia prevention.
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