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Monday, 28 November 2011

High blood pressure increases risk of cognitive decline

Published 7 November 2011
Vascular risk factors, including high blood pressure and signs of heart disease, increase your chance of developing cognitive problems according to a study published in Neurology on 7 November.
Since 2003 researchers in the United States have been following more than 30,000 people aged 45 and older to track their risk of stroke and monitor their cognitive health.
Existing evidence shows that stroke increases the risk of cognitive decline anddementia. However, this study reveals that people who have not experienced a stroke are still at increased risk if they have vascular risk factors.
Alzheimer's Society comment:
'We've known for some time that high blood pressure increases your chances ofdeveloping dementia. High blood pressure narrows the blood vessels making it harder for blood to reach the brain which restricts oxygen and kills brain cells. This study adds weight to the fact that high blood pressure must be treated early, even if the condition is not so severe as to lead to a stroke. We estimate that effective treatment could reduce the number of people dying from dementia by 15,000 a year.
'Having a low salt diet, maintaining a healthy weight, taking regular exercise and regulating your alcohol intake can help. If you are over 40 with a family history of dementia or cardiovascular disease you should get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked regularly.'
Dr Anne Corbett
Research Manager
Alzheimer's Society
Research Reference: Unverzagt FW et al. "Vascular Risk Factors and Cognitive Impairment in a Stroke-free Cohort." Neurology, Nov. 8, 2011, Vol. 77 (19), p. 1729

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