Low blood pressure ‘helps beat dementia’ claims report

LONDON: Lowering blood pressure could help to protect against the early signs of dementia, a trial has suggested.

Those who were intensively treated with drugs to get their blood pressure into the ideal range were 19 per cent less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, often a forerunner of dementia.

However, although there were signs that this would translate into protection against dementia, the trial was not able to show this. Scientists will continue the research in the hope of pinning down an effect.

Previous studies have suggested that people with high blood pressure were more likely to develop dementia, but it had not been proven that lowering it could reduce the risk. There is at present no treatment for the condition, and so finding ways to prevent dementia have become increasingly important.

The latest trial studied 9400 people with an average age of 68 who were treated to reduce their systolic blood pressure to either below 140mmHg, the normal point at which blood pressure is categorised as high, or more intensively to get it below 120mmHg, which is considered ideal.

They were treated for three years, after which the trial had to be stopped early because it was so clear that lower blood pressure protected against heart disease that it was considered unethical not to let all the patients benefit. After five years, 149 people on intensive treatment had developed dementia, compared with 176 on standard treatment.