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Lowering blood pressure doesn't prevent cognitive impairment, dementia

Lowering blood pressure does not appear to prevent cognitive or dementia-related disorders, a desired effect in light of the large number of elderly adults who suffer from both cognitive impairment and hypertension.

Authors of a new systematic review analyzed three studies comprising 12,091 patients with hypertension who were treated with either medication or lifestyle strategies for at least six months while undergoing testing to assess their cognitive function. All were followed for five years.

"There is no convincing evidence that lowering blood pressure prevents the development of dementia or cognitive impairment in hypertensive patients without apparent prior cerebrovascular disease," write co-authors including A. Peter Passmore, M.D., of the department of Public Health Medicine and Primary Care at Queen's University in Belfast, Ireland.

One blood-pressure medication, Nitrendipine, did appear to reduce dementia in one of the studies reviewed, but when combined with all data, this effect was not significant.

The review appears in the current issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.

Patients included in the study were between 60 and 89 years old with a minimum blood pressure of 160/90 and no previous cerebrovascular disease. Interventions to lower blood pressure included a variety of medications and/or lifestyle changes such as cutting salt and alcohol intake, quitting smoking and losing weight.

Vascular dementias have been linked to cardiovascular disorders, especially high blood pressure, and are often preceded by a series of small strokes. People can also suffer from a combination of vascular and Alzheimer's dementia. Hardening and narrowing of the blood ves
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Contact: Peter Passmore
p.passmore@qub.ac.uk
Center for the Advancement of Health
23-May-2006


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