It seems that maintaining low blood pressure does not just help prevent heart attacks — it can also help keep your mind sharp. The research was presented on Wednesday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference held in Chicago city, found that most risky people whose blood pressure was kept lower than the recommended level had a very significant reduction in mild cognitive impairment (MCI), considered the precursor to dementia. The research was, in fact, a part of the federally-funded Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT), a very large-scale, long-term clinical study that can also measure the very effects of lower blood pressure on cardiovascular and kidney function.
The special trial, which started in the year 2010, compared two type of strategies to maintain blood pressure among all those 9,361 adults with an average age of around 68 with increased cardiovascular risk. One group was made to receive the standard care strategy at the time, targeting just systolic blood pressure (the pressure exerted on artery walls when the heart beats) to below 140 millimeters of mercury. The other group was made to receive the same medication, but in greater doses, with at least a target blood pressure of 120 mm or less.
Treatment intentionally stopped in 2015, two years earlier than the planned end date of its completion, because of benefits involved in cardiovascular health that resulted in last year in a whole revision of the standard care guidelines to below 130 mm. Researchers have then continued to monitor most participants until June 2018. The trial was wholly funded by the National Institutes of Health.
As in SPRINT MIND, the actual brain portion of the study, researchers utilized memory tests to find participants for probable to be found with dementia (inability to perform daily activities at all independently) and early memory loss. The group receiving the intensive approach had at least a 19 percent lower rate of new cases of MCI.
A subgroup was also assessed during the research, through brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), for the whole white matter brain lesions that are associated with a higher risk of stroke, dementia and also higher mortality. While both groups showed a considerable increase in white matter lesions, the increase was almost significantly less in the intensive treatment group.
The findings, which are hoping to be published later this year, could provide a relatively very easy way to lower the rate of Alzheimer’s dementia in patients, which in the United States is at least 10 percent of people ages 65 and older.
“For many years now, we’ve observed that people with lower blood pressure, even if it’s achieved through medication, have a lower risk for developing dementia,” said Jeff Williamson, professor of internal medicine and epidemiology and chief of geriatric medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, who presented the study. “Now, for the first time in history, we have something to say if you lower your blood pressure you can lower your risk for mild cognitive impairment and dementia.”
The study comprised of a very diverse population, which included 30 percent African American and more than 10 percent Hispanic participants, with various educational backgrounds.
The group suffering from lower blood-pressure had to experience some unexpected adverse reactions, including dehydration and overheating, but “these were tolerable compared to the benefits,” Williamson said. “I have many patients who say, ‘I don’t fear death so much as I fear to lose my memory.’ ”
The whole of those results completely correlate with recent data showing reductions in new cases of dementia in developed Western countries that have already improved medication management, decreased habit of smoking and promoted better and healthier lifestyles, said Maria Carillo, chief science officer at the Alzheimer’s Association.
“To reduce new cases of MCI and dementia globally we must do everything we can — as professionals and individuals — to reduce blood pressure to the levels indicated in this study, which we know is beneficial to cardiovascular risk,” she said.