Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
December 15, 2020
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BP control may impact decline in cognitive function

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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BP control may be critical for the preservation of cognitive function, according to a study published in Hypertension.

The researchers found that hypertension and prehypertension were associated with declines in various markers of cognitive function.

Older adult looking confused
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“Hypertension is a highly prevalent risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia, potentially preventable and treatable,” Sara Teles de Menezes, PhD, from Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and colleagues wrote. “Although it is not known exactly when hypertension begins to affect cognition, middle age seems to be a sensitive period in which exposure to hypertension has a subtle and lasting negative impact on the brain.”

In a longitudinal study, researchers analyzed 7,063 participants (mean age, 59 years; 55% women) to assess associations between hypertension (46.8%), prehypertension (22%) and BP control with decline in cognitive function. Researchers performed cognitive testing on memory, fluency and trail B, generating local cognitive scores. Mean follow-up was 3.8 years.

Study results showed hypertension was associated with a reduction in memory, and prehypertension was associated with a reduction in fluency. Further analysis showed a hypertension diagnosis in patients aged at least 55 years was associated with lower global cognitive scores and lower memory test scores, whereas a hypertension diagnosis in patients aged 54 years and younger was associated with lower memory test scores. The duration of hypertension diagnosis was not associated with cognitive function decline. Hypertension treatment was inversely associated with the decline in global cognitive scores and memory test scores.

“The most striking finding of our study was the relation between age of hypertension diagnosis and cognitive function trajectory. We saw that both hypertension diagnosis at middle and older ages seems to negatively affect cognitive ageing and that if blood pressure is treated and controlled in these individuals, this negative effect can be reduced,” Sandhi Maria Barreto, PhD, from Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, told Healio. “Prevention and control of high blood pressure levels is important at any age to slow down the speed of age-related cognitive decline. We think that, as we increase follow up time, we will be able to detect the effect of blood pressure on cognitive abilities that were not associated with hypertension in our study.”