Hypertension Bad for the Brain?
~ by Cher Giovani
The study wasn’t about dementia: it was about blood pressure. A British group researching hypertension in the elderly followed a group of participants aged 80 and over to record the effects of drug therapy treatment for hypertension on the patients. Among the many variables measured was cognitive impairment.
The 3,336 subjects were randomly assigned to receive or not receive drug therapy for hypertension. At the beginning, they were all screened to have similar medical records, including no diagnosis of dementia.
The study found that treatment definitely reduced incidence of stroke, heart failure, and death. There were also 263 cases of dementia, including vascular dementia, Alzheimer’s, and ordinary cognitive decline. Treatment showed a small, but definite increase in cognitive decline among the untreated subjects.
Further study would be necessary to see if treating hypertension directly affects dementia, or if the reduced decline is tied to the form of treatment itself; the greatest reduction in dementia was found with the use of calcium channel blockers.