Steve Thompson recalls signs of his early-onset dementia
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An estimated 55 million people currently have dementia, due in part to the rising proportion of older people in countries around the globe. As populations continue to age, this number is expected to rise to 78 million by just 2030, the World Health Organization has warned. Managing risk factors like high blood pressure, however, could curtail the risk of brain decline for some people.
Research suggests that high blood pressure may contribute to the onset of cognitive decline by damaging blood vessels, including those leading to the brain.
This in turn may disrupt blood flow and lead to the development of neurodegenerative disease like vascular dementia.
The latest findings from data from six different studies traced high blood pressure’s association with declining brain function over years.
A team of scientists from the University of Michigan came to the findings after setting out to explain why Hispanic people face a 50 percent higher risk of dementia by the end of their life, st johns family medicine springfield mo compared to non-Hispanic white people in the UK.
The findings, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, highlight the importance of controlling high blood pressure for long-term brain health.
Deborah Levine, lead author of the study and director of the University of Michigan’s Cognitive Health Services Research Program said: “Our findings suggest that high blood pressure causes faster cognitive decline and that taking hypertension medication slows the pace of that decline.
“Since other studies have shown that people of Hispanic heritage in the United States tend to have higher rates of uncontrolled hypertension than non-Hispanic white people, due in part to worse access to care, it’s vital that they get extra support to control their blood pressure even if blood pressure is only part of the picture when it comes to higher dementia risk.
“A risk factor like uncontrolled high blood pressure that is more prevalent in one group can still contribute to substantial health disparities.”
The researchers analysed changes in the thinking and memory ability of adults aged 18 and over in six long-term studies conducted over the past five decades.
The researchers had access to nearly eight years of data from more than 22,000 non-Hispanic white adults and nearly 2,500 Hispanic adults, none of whom had suffered stroke or dementia at the time of enrolment.
Although results highlight a link between high blood pressure and the onset of brain decline, other factors may play a bigger role in the disparity between Hispanic and non-Hispanic people.
The data included information on years of education but excluded other factors known as social determinants of health, including incomes, family factors and living experience.
According to the authors, these factors can all drive disparities in cognitive decline between Hispanic and non-Hispanic people.
How to manage high blood pressure
High blood pressure is widely treated with medications, but lifestyle changes are also effective for controlling numbers.
The Mayo Clinic explains: “If you’re overweight or have obesity, losing even a small amount of weight can help reduce blood pressure.
“In general, blood pressure might go down by about 1 mm Hg with each kilogram of weight loss.”
It is equally important to consider the size of your waistline, as carrying too much weight around the waist can substantially increase blood pressure.
A regular exercise routine and a healthy diet are two effective measures to help circumvent these risk factors.
Doing at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day can bring blood pressure down to safer levels.
This should be paired with a healthy diet emphasising whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products.
“Examples of eating plans that can help control blood pressure are the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet and the Mediterranean diet,” adds the Mayo Clinic.
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