Lead author of the study Rita Peila, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at the National Institute on Aging (NIA), said "For every year of hypertension treatment, there is increased protection against dementia."
Some physicians hesitate to treat hypertension in the elderly because of concerns that lowering blood pressure might impair cognitive functioning. However, clinical trials have shown no harmful effects on cognitive function in elderly patients undergoing hypertension therapy.
"Hypertension treatment in the very old -- those aged 80 and older -- protects against stroke, heart disease and heart failure, and now we see that there is no harm -- and perhaps a benefit -- on cognitive function," said Peila, who is also a scientist at the Pacific Health Research Institute in Honolulu.
Researchers analyzed data from the long-term Honolulu-Asia Aging Study on Japanese-American men born between 1900 and 1919. They focused on 848 men (ages 50-65) who had mid-life high blood pressure and were free of dementia at age 77 (on average). Then, at follow-up visits three and six years later, the men had a thorough diagnostic evaluation for dementia and took the Cognitive Abilities Screening Instrument, a well-recognized test of cognitive function in Japanese and Western populations.
Of the 848 men, researchers identified 142 who had never been treated for their hypertension and 706 who were being treated at the age 77 examination. Researchers divided the treated group based on the duration of treatment:
Researchers found that each year of treatment reduced the risk of developi
Contact: Carole Bullock or Bridgette McNeill
American Heart Association