Lowering blood pressure could cut risk factor for dementia

Intensive blood pressure lowering can have a measurable impact on mild cognitive impairment, a precursor of dementia.

(CNN)Intensive lowering of blood pressure, to a less than 120 mm Hg level, can have a measurable impact on mild cognitive impairment (MCI) -- a well-established precursor of dementia, a new study finds.

Previous studies have suggested high blood pressure could be a risk factor for dementia and mild cognitive impairment, leading US researchers to explore whether lowering pressure could reduce this risk in a large randomized trial on more than 9000 people.
Lowering blood pressure did not significantly reduce dementia risk, but the secondary results showed a significant reduction in MCI, according to the study published Monday.
"Dementia continues to be a large public health challenge, and based on the primary results of this study, we still have yet to find an intervention strategy proven to reduce the risk of dementia," said Dr. Richard J. Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of National Institutes of Health.
    "Nevertheless, the secondary results showing that intensive lowering of blood pressure may reduce risk for MCI, a known risk factor for dementia, gives us additional avenues to explore on the path to prevention," he said in a statement.
    Dementia is the seventh leading cause of death in the world, according to the World Health Organization. The syndrome involves the loss of cognitive functioning and behavioral abilities, and Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia in older adults.
    In the United States, about 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, according to the US-based Alzheimer's Association.