According to recent studies, a person’s risk for dementia may decrease the longer their blood pressure levels stay under control. As per US News, the findings support the idea that maintaining stable systolic blood pressure levels, as opposed to levels that fluctuate even when the average falls within the desired range, is the greatest way to maintain optimal heart and brain health.
The research will be presented on Saturday at the Chicago-based and online Scientific Sessions meeting of the American Heart Association. Until the whole results are published in a peer-reviewed journal, the findings are regarded as preliminary.
Sitong Li, the study’s principal investigator and a doctoral student in the department of cardiology at Beijing Anzhen Hospital, Capital Medical University in Beijing, said, “This study clarified that time in target range has an incremental value beyond mean systolic blood pressure and systolic blood pressure variability.”
Healthcare professionals may be able to “identify people at higher risk of dementia and deliver tailored blood pressure therapies to help patients stay within a target” by keeping track of how long blood pressure is kept under control.
According to AHA statistics, high blood pressure affects over half of individuals in the United States. Only around 1 in 5 of people have their condition under control, which can be achieved by consistent exercise, a nutritious diet, and possibly medication.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure, or hypertension, has previously been associated with an increased risk of dementia and cognitive decline. The most recent reading is frequently used to determine if a person’s blood pressure is thought to be under control. However, throughout time and even throughout the day, blood pressure readings might change.
According to Dr. Costantino Iadecola, director and chair of the Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, researchers have recently begun to approach blood pressure control differently. And they are discovering this “If you work harder to maintain your blood pressure in a specific range for a longer period of time, you might have better results. You must consistently practice it rather than just occasionally.”
Among adults with high blood pressure and high cardiovascular risk, a 2021 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology examined the relationship between the amount of time that systolic blood pressure readings stayed within the ideal range and how that affected major cardiovascular outcomes, such as heart attacks, worsening heart failure, and strokes. It was shown that the danger decreased the longer the systolic blood pressure stayed within target.
The current study, according to the researchers, is the first to look into the connection between the amount of time systolic blood pressure levels stay within normal range and the risk of cognitive deterioration or dementia.
In the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial, or SPRINT, which compared intensive treatment to standard treatment of systolic blood pressure among persons with hypertension, data for 8,415 participants were evaluated by Li and colleagues. 110 to 130 mmHg was specified as the target range for intensive management, while 120 to 140 mmHg was specified as the target range for standard control. (A systolic measurement of less than 120 and a diastolic reading, or the bottom number, less than 80, are considered to be normal blood pressure readings.)
At the start of the trial and once a month for the first three months of follow-up, blood pressure was assessed. Utilizing the first three months of blood pressure recordings, time in target range was calculated.
At the beginning of the trial, none of the participants, who were, on average, 68 years old, had cognitive impairment or dementia. To evaluate whether participants had probable dementia or mild cognitive impairment, cognitive status was tested after two years and again two years later by expert examiners.
The investigation revealed that those with systolic blood pressure readings that remained in the target range for a longer period of time were less likely to be identified as having probable dementia throughout the course of a median follow-up of five years. A 16% decreased incidence of dementia was linked to each 31.5% increase in time spent within the target range.
Iadecola, who was not involved in the new research, stated that healthcare workers often don’t see patients frequently enough to regularly measure blood pressure. However, more frequent usage of home blood pressure monitoring could track the amount of time someone spends inside the desired range. He said that wearable technology that uses Wi-Fi to relay measurements to a patient’s medical team may be beneficial.
Systolic and diastolic blood pressure measurements “do not tell the whole story,” Iadecola said of the study’s findings. “The most valuable variable may be how long a patient is on target.”