Hypertension Protective Against Dementia in Old Age

HealthDay News – Developing hypertension in very old age may provide some protection from dementia, according to a study published online in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

Maria Corrada, ScD, a professor of neurology and epidemiology at the University of California, Irvine, and colleagues followed 559 people aged 90 years and older for nearly 3 years. The participants were free from dementia at the start of the study. The researchers checked blood pressure history and assessed the participants for dementia every 6 months during the course of the study. During follow-up, 40% developed dementia.

The researchers found that those who developed hypertension after age 80 were 42% less likely to develop dementia in their 90s compared to those with normal blood pressure. Those whose hypertension started after aged 90 years were 63% less likely to develop dementia vs those without hypertension. The link remained even if patients were taking medications to treat hypertension.

“Developing hypertension at older ages may protect against dementia,” the authors wrote. “Understanding the mechanisms for this lower risk is important for determining ways to prevent dementia in the very elderly.”

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Corrada MM, Hayden KM, Paganini-Hill A, et al. Age of onset of hypertension and risk of dementia in the oldest-old: the 90+ study [Published online January 17, 2017]. Alzheimers Dement. doi:10.1016/j.jalz.2016.09.007