A recent study by scientists at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, in Winston-Salem, NC was conducted to determine the connection between blood pressure and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The results of their study were published in the prestigious JAMA.
This research was part of the National Institutes of Health’s Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT). High blood pressure (hypertension) is a major health problem in the United States, with more than half of all individuals over the age of 50 — and three-quarters of those over the age of 65 — suffering from the condition.
The researchers studied approximately 9500 hypertensive adults over the age of 50 in order to evaluate the effect of intensive blood pressure control in relation to the development of MCI. The scientists began by dividing the group of participants into two groups: one group received standard high blood pressure treatment, the other received more intensive blood pressure control. Standard blood pressure treatment involves keeping systolic blood pressure below 140 mm Hg. Intensive blood pressure treatment involves keeping systolic blood pressure below 120 mm Hg. (Systolic blood pressure is defined as the pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts. It is the first number given in a blood pressure measurement)
Dr. Jeff Williamson, professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, who led the study stated, “We found that just three years of [intensively] lowering blood pressure not only dramatically helped the heart, but also helped the brain.”
Indeed, the study revealed that intensive blood pressure control significantly reduced the percentage of people who went on to develop MCI, compared with those who received the standard treatment.
The long-term effects of this treatment on the development of dementia are not yet known. However, the cardiovascular benefits of intensive blood pressure control were so dramatic that the researchers ended the study earlier than planned. Consequently, although the researchers were able to conclude that intensive blood pressure control significantly lowered the likelihood of developing MCI, the study did not last long enough to determine if intensive blood pressure control would reduce the likelihood of developing full-blown dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Nevertheless, the doctors were encouraged by the findings. Currently there are no effective treatments for MCI, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, this represents the first indication that intervention in the form of intensive blood pressure control can lower the risk of reduced cognitive function.
At Hamilton Grove Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Hamilton, NJ, we are experts in handling all levels of cognitive impairment, from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
We have created a unique environment and care program specifically designed to address the needs of this population. Our Alzheimer’s Unit is situated in a separate, secure wing to ensure the safety and well-being of our residents. It offers a structured daily routine, mind-stimulating activities, excellent social interaction, with optimal patient independence in a calm and soothing atmosphere.
Or better yet, come see for yourself: Contact us to schedule a tour by calling 609-588-5800 or by clicking here.