Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Hypertension in middle-age people may lead to dementia later in life, new research shows.
People between ages 54 and 63 with blood pressure readings above 140/90 Hg, and then saw their readings drop below 90/60 Hg later in life, have an increased risk of dementia, according to a study published Tuesday in JAMA.
Middle-aged people who took medicine to control hypertension and then experienced late-life blood pressure dips also had a higher likelihood of dementia.
"Blood pressure is known to influence various aspects of brain health and physiology. The brain requires a high volume of steady blood flow to survive and function optimally," Keenan Walker, a researcher at The Johns Hopkins University and study author, said in a news release. "Persistent or untreated hypertension, for example, can lead to abnormalities in the arteries that deliver blood to the brain."
For the study, researchers observed nearly 4,800 people who had their blood pressure measured and neurocognitive status evaluated during six visits to the doctor over 24 years. The participants resided in Maryland, North Carolina, Mississippi and Minneapolis.
Between the fifth and sixth visits, 516 people received dementia diagnoses.
Mid-life hypertension followed by late-life low blood pressure was also linked to mild cognitive impairment in 21 percent of participants.
Hypertension drugs may be associated with dementia in this study, but other research has shown the medication can slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than five million people in the United States live with Alzheimer's, a common form of dementia.
"Maintaining cardiovascular health during midlife and late-life through diet and exercise is essential," Walker said. "Additionally, controlling diagnosed cardiovascular conditions through adherence to appropriate medication is also important for lowering dementia risk."