A detailed analysis of an international cohort of 31,000 people has found that well controlled blood pressure and not the type of blood pressure drug reduces the risk of dementia.
The study, published in The Lancet Neurology, compared various types of blood pressure medications to see whether any particular drug class was most effective at lowering the risk of dementia.
Individual patient data from six studies where participants had been followed-up for over five years was analysed. Amongst those with high blood pressure (hypertension), blood pressure medication reduced of risk of developing dementia by 12% compared to those who did not take a medication. No differences were found across different medication classes, suggesting the use of any of the blood pressure medications investigated could reduce dementia risk.
Further, for those with normal blood pressure, there was no association between blood pressure medication use and the risk of developing dementia.
The team involved researchers from across the world, including Dr Phillip Tully from the University of Adelaide. With funding from the Dementia Australia Research Foundation, Dr Tully is continuing this work by investigating whether fluctuations in a person’s blood pressure level over time has better prognostic value in predicting dementia and cognitive decline, compared to a person’s average blood pressure.
The extent to which classes of blood pressure medication modulate blood pressure variability and, in turn, the risk of dementia and cognitive decline will also be explored. To do this, Dr Tully will analyse data from North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
Dr Tully said that encouragingly the project continues to grow in terms of members and individual participating sites.
“This is testament to the novel application of blood pressure variability to brain health and the incidence of dementia,” Dr Tully said.