Even slightly raised blood pressure in middle age may increase dementia risk
"Fifty-year-olds with slightly raised blood pressure are at an increased risk of getting dementia in later life," The Independent reports.
A long-running study of 8,639 British civil servants found that people who had blood pressure above the ideal level – but below that used to diagnose high blood pressure – were more than a third more likely to get dementia.
The link between high blood pressure and dementia has been known for some time. It's thought to be because high blood pressure can cause bleeding and damage to the brain.
Previous studies haven't agreed on the level of blood pressure that creates this risk, or the age at which this risk begins.
Most guidelines recommend treating people for high blood pressure once it reaches 140mmHg systolic pressure (the pressure when the heart beats and pushes blood around the body).
But this study found the risk of dementia rose from about 130mmHg systolic pressure for people aged 50.
High blood pressure when people were older wasn't linked to dementia risk, perhaps because the damage to the brain is done over decades of high blood pressure.
If you're concerned about the findings of this study, the best first step is to get your blood pressure tested. Blood pressure testing is available from GP surgeries and some pharmacies.
Find out more about blood pressure and how to keep it healthy.
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Last updated on 18 June 2018.
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