If you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure relatively early in life, you may be more likely to develop dementia than people with normal blood pressure, according to new research.
The results, published in Hypertension, a journal of the American Heart Association, showed that people with high blood pressure between the ages of 35 and 44 had a smaller brain volume and were more likely to develop dementia.
High blood pressure is common among people aged 45 to 64, but it is also becoming more prevalent in younger adults, says Dr. Mingwang He, the study’s senior author and professor of ophthalmology at the University of Melbourne in Australia.
In general, the American Heart Association defines high blood pressure, which is medically known as high blood pressure, with a reading over 130/80.
However, for the study, a participant was considered hypertensive if the doctor or hospital records included hypertension diagnostic codes.
The researchers looked at anonymous health information from nearly 500,000 participating volunteers in the UK, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measurements of brain volume.
They discovered that the total brain volume and brain volume in certain regions were smaller in the 35-54-year-olds who had been diagnosed with high blood pressure than in the participants without hypertension.
Additionally, the researchers found that:
- The risk of developing dementia from any cause was 61% higher in people diagnosed with high blood pressure between the ages of 35 and 44 than in those with normal blood pressure.
- The risk of vascular dementia was 45% higher in adults diagnosed with hypertension aged 45-54 years, and 69% higher in those diagnosed between the ages of 35-44 years. (Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia. Conditions that damage blood vessels in the brain or obstruct blood flow and oxygen flow to the brain.)
- There was no evidence of a relationship between a person’s age at diagnosis of high blood pressure and their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.
He said in a press release:
“Although the association between high blood pressure, brain health and dementia in later life has been well established, it was not known how age at onset of hypertension might affect this relationship. If demonstrated, it would provide some important evidence to suggest an intervention. To delay the onset of hypertension, which in turn may be useful in preventing dementia.”
He suggests that an active screening program to identify those with early hypertension could lead to early and intensive treatment of hypertension, which could reduce patients’ risk of dementia.
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