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Lowering blood pressure in later life can cut the risk of dementia

The Australian research team found the blood pressure treatments all reduced the risk of dementia.

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By Gwyn Wright via SWNS

The "strongest evidence to date" that lowering blood pressure in later life can cut the risk of dementia has been provided by a major new global study.

Scientists say the research involving more than 28,000 people shows that, without a breakthrough new treatment, taking steps to avoid high blood pressure is the best way of avoiding the debilitating condition.

“Given population aging and the substantial costs of caring for people with dementia, even a small reduction could have considerable global impact," said study author Dr. Ruth Peters, of the University of New South Wales.

“Our study suggests that using readily available treatments to lower blood pressure is currently one of our ‘best bets’ to tackle this insidious disease.”

Dementia is fast becoming an epidemic which affects around 50 million people worldwide.

This is expected to triple by 2050, largely driven by aging populations.

While many clinical trials have looked at the health benefits of reducing blood pressure, few have examined its impact on dementia.

Even fewer trials have contained a control group who are given a placebo, which is essential if robust evidence is to be obtained.

For the new study, researchers examined five randomized clinical trials where participants were split into a treatment group and a control group who received a placebo.

The trials used different blood pressure lowering treatments and followed patients until the development of dementia.

A total of 28,008 people with an average age of 69 and a history of high blood pressure from 20 countries took part. Participants were followed four an average of four years.

The Australian research team found the blood pressure treatments all reduced the risk of dementia.

They hope the discovery will help slow the development of dementia and help scientists looking to find new treatments for it.

"Our study provides the highest grade of available evidence to show that blood pressure lowering treatment over several years reduces the risk of dementia, and we did not see any evidence of harm," Peters said.

“What we still don’t know is whether additional blood pressure lowering in people who already have it well-controlled or starting treatment earlier in life would reduce the long-term risk of dementia.”

Professor Craig Anderson, of The George Institute for Global Health in New South Wales added: “This work is an important foundation for clinical trials to provide reliable estimates of the benefits and risks of preventative treatments, and how best to apply them across different populations.”

The findings were published in the European Heart Journal.

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