Lowering your blood pressure may prevent mild cognitive impairment, dementia

Lowering one’s blood pressure is beneficial not only for the heart, but also for the mind.

For the first time, researchers have proved that lowering systolic blood pressure to 120 mm Hg or less reduces the risk of mild cognitive impairment, which in turn, reduces one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

The findings were the result of the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial’s (SPRINT) Memory and Cognition in Decreased Hypertension (MIND) study.

The preliminary results of the SPRINT MIND study were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference today.

The preliminary results of the trial is the first time it has been proved that the risk of mild cognitive impairment and dementia can be reduced through high blood pressure treatment.

“We previously found that treating blood pressure intensively, to a goal of 120 mm Hg systolic, reduces cardiovascular events and mortality in people with hypertension,” said Virginia Wadley Bradley, Ph.D. at the the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“Now the preliminary results of SPRINT MIND show that treating systolic blood pressure to this goal is better for the brain as well.

Participants in the intensive treatment group (target 120 mm Hg) had a 19% lower risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which is often a precursor to dementia, than participants in the standard treatment group with a systolic blood pressure goal of 140 mm Hg.”

Researchers also discovered that treating hypertension by reducing systolic blood pressure to 120 mm Hg also reduces the total volume of white matter lesions in the brain.

The results of the SPRINT study found that heart attacks, strokes, acute coronary syndrome, heart failure and death due to cardiovascular causes were reduced in people whose blood pressure was lower than 120 mm Hg compared to those whose blood pressure is 140 mm Hg.

More than 9,300 participants age 50 and older with high blood pressure were assigned to the trial.

UAB has participated in the SPRINT trial since it began in 2010, when it was selected by the NIH as one of five hubs to recruit and direct the 100 medical centers and clinics participating in the trial around the United States and Puerto Rico.

For the MIND study, the SPRINT participants, 270 of whom were enrolled at UAB, participated in the trial. The findings were accomplished through the help of a team of various physicians and nurses.

The study is also examining kidney disease function and, according to preliminary results, has found that there appears to be no serious harm to kidney function due to lowering systolic blood pressure to 120 mm Hg.

Written by Holly Gainer

Source: UAB.