A recent study published in JAMA Network Open suggests that high blood pressure variability (BPV) later in life may increase the risk of dementia. The study found that individuals with high BPV in later life had a higher lifetime risk of developing dementia. However, this association was not observed in individuals with high BPV in midlife.
BPV is considered an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease and is linked to organ damage in blood vessels, kidneys, and the heart. The researchers aimed to observe the relationship between visit-to-visit BPV at different ages and lifetime dementia risk.
The study included 820 participants aged 65 and older who were followed from the time they entered the study until their death. Data were collected from 1994 to November 2019, and participants were assessed at two-year intervals. Systolic blood pressure measurements were included in the analysis using participants' medical records starting from the age of 50.
The researchers found that high BPV in later life was associated with a higher lifetime risk of dementia. Specifically, year-by-year BPV calculated over the preceding 10 years was linked to a 35% higher risk of developing dementia, but only in individuals who were 90 years old.
Dr. J. Wes Ulm, a medical researcher and bioinformatics expert, explained that BPV is a complex phenomenon influenced by various factors, including short-term stress, exercise-induced effects, and errors in blood pressure medication use. He noted that insufficient blood supply to the central nervous system is associated with dementia, particularly vascular dementia. However, the exact relationship between blood pressure and dementia remains unclear.
To reduce the risks associated with BPV, experts recommend maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular physical activity, a balanced diet low in salt and high in fruits and vegetables, moderation in alcohol consumption, and avoiding smoking. Regular health check-ups are also crucial for monitoring blood pressure levels. Additionally, effective stress management techniques such as mindfulness, yoga, and breathing exercises can help manage stress levels. Medication adherence is also important for controlling blood pressure and reducing the risk of dementia.
In conclusion, high BPV in later life may increase the risk of dementia. However, the link between blood pressure and dementia is still not fully understood. To mitigate this risk, individuals should adopt a healthy lifestyle, manage stress effectively, and adhere to prescribed medications.