Sophia Antipolis, 04 January 2019: According to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension, patients with high blood pressure experienced abnormalities in the brain’s small vessels that were associated with cognitive impairment, which may be an early sign of dementia (1).
Professor Bryan Williams, Chairman of the joint European Society of Cardiology (ESC)/ European Society of Hypertension (ESH) Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Arterial Hypertension (2) and Chair of Medicine at University College London said; “this is an important study. It demonstrates that a common condition like high blood pressure (hypertension) is likely to be a very important cause of dementia.
For years research has been ongoing to try and find a treatment to prevent dementia and the answer might be staring us in the face. It looks like much of dementia is likely to be related to blood vessel damage in the brain due to high blood pressure. This study shows that high blood pressure is associated with subtle progressive damage to the brain that is associated with an accelerated rate of decline in brain function. That is likely, over time, to culminate in dementia. This supports previous studies that have shown that a higher blood pressure in mid-life is associated with a higher risk of dementia in later life.
Importantly, a recent stub-study of the SPRINT study in the US has shown that effective treatment of high blood pressure can reduce the risk of developing injury to the brain and reduce the risk of decline in brain function. This suggests that in addition to the proven benefits of blood pressure treatment to reduce heart disease, stroke and premature death, effective treatment of blood pressure may also reduce the risk of developing dementia. It should now be a major healthcare priority to conduct studies of sufficient size to determine whether treatment of high blood pressure can be regarded as the first effective treatment to prevent dementia. The implications of such a finding would be enormous, mindful of the fact that approximately 1 in 4 adults have high blood pressure and many remain untreated or inadequately treated.”