Middle-Age Adults With High Blood Pressure at Greater Risk of Dementia, Study Suggests

Middle-Age Adults With High Blood Pressure at Greater Risk of Dementia, Study Suggests
People with high blood pressure, or hypertension, during midlife are at a greater risk of developing dementia, irrespective of their blood pressure later on, a long-term follow-up study suggests. The study, “Association of Midlife to Late-Life Blood Pressure Patterns With Incident Dementia,” was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Increasing evidence suggests that high blood pressure in middle age — from 45 to 65 years — may be a risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia. However, several studies have pointed to a blood pressure decline in the years immediately before the onset of dementia. Additionally, the potential association between blood pressure patterns later in life — over 70 years — and cognitive function remains unclear. To establish blood pressure recommendations for lowering the risk of dementia in older adults, researchers first need to understand the association between blood pressure patterns over time and cognitive function. In this study, researchers evaluated the potential association of midlife to late-life blood pressure patterns with the occurrence of dementia and cognitive decline, using data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. The ARIC study, from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), enrolled nearly 16,000 adults from four U.S. communities. Scientists monitored the participants' blood pressure over 24 years, including midlife to late-life. Participants were examined at the time of enrollment — between 1987 to 1989 — and followed-up over five visits until 2016 or 2017. The U.S. communities included in the study were Washington County, Md.; Forsyth County, N.C.; Jackson, Miss.; and Minneapolis, Minn. Researchers analyzed the data
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