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High Blood Pressure In Elderly May Reduce Alzheimer's Risks

By Christie Abagon , Jan 17, 2017 08:12 PM EST
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High blood pressure is often linked to poor health, and may lead to stroke, heart attack, or kidney failure.  However, a recent study shows high blood pressure's surprising benefit, especially for the elderly. 

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine discovered that patients between 80 and 89 years old who develop high blood pressure or hypertension are 42 per cent less likely to get dementia, The Sun reported.  Those who are at least 90 years old are are 63 per cent less likely to suffer from dementia, compared to people of the same age with normal blood pressure.

'Hypertension In The Very Old Is Not Detrimental For Mental Health'

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia.  Maria Corrada, professor of neurology and epidemiology at the University of California, Irvine, and lead researcher said: "Hypertension in the very old is not detrimental for mental health." 

According to US News Health, there are several factors that help explain the link between late-life high blood pressure and lower dementia risk.  One reason could be that, as people get older, blood pressure may need to increase to keep blood flowing to the brain for it to function normally. "It's a matter of creating enough pressure to get blood to oxygenate the brain adequately," she said.  

More Research Is Needed To Confirm Findings

The researchers tracked 559 elderly people for an average of almost three years, and during this time, 224 of the subjects were diagnosed with dementia but relatively few of those had been found to have high blood pressure.  But Corrada said more research is needed to confirm their findings.

"Before we can make the leap to suggesting changes to blood pressure recommendations for reducing dementia risk in clinical care, we need more research to confirm and explain our findings. This includes investigations into the underlying biology of hypertension and brain function." 

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