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Risk of developing vascular dementia increased by high blood pressure

While we’re already aware that having high blood pressure can cause all sorts of complications and medical conditions from heart attack to stroke, a new study carried out by The George Institute or Global Health suggests that having higher than normal blood pressure can also increase the risk of developing vascular dementia.

Vascular dementia is on the increase around the world

Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia, affecting over 9 million people globally. It’s caused when the blood supply to the brain is reduced, usually due to diseased or damaged blood vessels. Currently the rate of vascular dementia is on the increase all over the world, and dealing with these patients poses considerable economic and social pressure for both developing and developed countries . As this is only likely to get worse, this research has proved to be an important initial step in finding ways to reduce the risk.

High blood pressure linked with a 62% higher risk of developing vascular dementia

The research team which was led by the Institute’s Deputy Director, Professor Kazem Rahimi, analysed the medical records of over four million people. Their findings showed that an increase in blood pressure was linked to a 62% higher risk of developing vascular dementia in people aged between 30 and 50.

Key findings from the research

From their analysis of 4.28 million people, the researchers found that 11,114 people went on to develop vascular dementia over a period of seven years. They also discovered that individuals in the age bracket 30 -50 who had had high blood pressure, had a 62% higher risk of developing this kind of dementia, while those in the age range 51-70, had a 26% higher risk. Even after adjusting for the presence of stroke (the leading cause of vascular dementia) high blood pressure was still found to be a significant risk factor.

Lowering blood pressure could reduce the risk of vascular dementia

As a result of their findings, Professor Rahimi suggested that it may be possible to reduce the risk of developing vascular dementia by lowering the blood pressure. This can be achieved either by adopting a healthy eating and exercise programme, or by taking prescription blood pressure lowering drugs.

This research was published in an April edition of the online journal Stroke.

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