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Controlling Blood Pressure Key to Preventing Cognitive Decline

Lowering your elevated blood pressure with antihypertensive drugs may help you slightly reduce the risk of developing dementia or cognitive impairment, according to a new meta-analysis of clinical trials.

[A meta-analysis combines data from different trials performed by different groups to increase the ability to detect important patterns in the outcomes]. Researchers combined results from 12 trials including a total of 96,158 individuals, with a mean age of 69 years, who were followed for an average of just over 4 years. Those taking an antihypertensive had a slightly smaller risk of developing dementia than those not taking one (7% vs 7.5%) Cognitive impairment showed a similar modest effect (20.2% vs 21.1%). Although these differences are numerically small, researchers believe that the effect is real because it is based on such a large number of individuals. However, lowering blood pressure did not improve or worsen an individual’s scores on cognitive tests.

Hughes D, et al. Association of blood pressure lowering with incident dementia or cognitive impairment: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA. 2020;323(19):1934-1944. doi: 10.1001/jama.2020.4249.