Over-60s who receive treatment for high blood pressure are substantially less likely to develop dementia than those who go untreated, according to a study.
Researchers at the University of NSW have found treating hypertension over the age of 60 reduces the risk of dementia occurring by more than 25 per cent, with ongoing treatment the key to keeping the odds down as people age.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is known to be the most prevalent risk factor for dementia, and affects more than one billion people worldwide.
Doctor Matt Lennon from UNSW’s Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA), said the study, published in open access medical journal JAMA Network Open, showed the benefits of lower blood pressure in warding off dementia were maintained steadily as people aged.
Dr Lennon said some results in the study were expected, including that older people with unmedicated hypertension have a significantly higher risk of developing dementia compared with healthy individuals and those whose hypertension is medicated.
But he said the data found the relationship was not significantly altered with increased age, and showed people in their 70s and 80s remain at lower risk of dementia if they are already receiving treatment for their high blood pressure.
The researchers examined data from 34,519 individuals across 15 countries.
“Risk (of dementia) was substantially reduced in the treated hypertension group in those older than 65, 75 and 85,” Dr Lennon said.
He said the results of the study should inform general practitioners and family physicians treating high blood pressure.
The study also looked at how age, sex and race impact risk factors between blood pressure, antihypertensive use and dementia, and found no significant differences.
“This is a very promising result as it suggests that optimal care for one group will be similar for others,” said Dr Lennon.
The researchers also suggested GPs use multiple measurements over longer periods of time, rather than over a few visits, to direct treatment of hypertension.
(Australian Associated Press)