Midlife Hypertension Increases Risk of Dementia

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MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Blood pressure monitor reading 120/80 copyright American Heart Association

Blood pressure monitor reading 120/80
copyright American Heart Association

Professor Archana Singh-Manoux, PhD, HDR Epidemiology
Research Director (DR1), INSERM
Honorary Professor, University College London

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Although there have been previous studies that have linked raised blood pressure in midlife to an increased risk of dementia in later life, the term ‘midlife’ has been poorly defined and ranged from 35 to 68 years.

New findings from the long-running Whitehall II study of over 10,000 civil servants has found 50-year-olds who had blood pressure that was higher than normal but still below the threshold commonly used when deciding to treat the condition, were at increased risk of developing dementia in later life. 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our work confirms the detrimental effects of midlife hypertension for risk of dementia, as suggested by previous research. It also suggests that at age 50, the risk of dementia may be increased in people who have raised levels of systolic blood pressure below the threshold commonly used to treat hypertension

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: It is important to emphasise that this is observational, population-level research and so these findings do not translate directly into implications for individual patients. Furthermore, there is considerable discussion on the optimal threshold for the diagnosis of hypertension. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that maintaining a healthy blood pressure in middle age is important for both your heart and your brain later in life. Anyone who is concerned about their blood pressure levels should consult their GP.

No conflicts of interest

Citation:

Jessica G Abell, Mika Kivimäki, Aline Dugravot, Adam G Tabak, Aurore Fayosse, Martin Shipley, Séverine Sabia, Archana Singh-Manoux. Association between systolic blood pressure and dementia in the Whitehall II cohort study: role of age, duration, and threshold used to define hypertension. European Heart Journal, 2018; DOI: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehy288

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