Thursday, April 06, 2006

Memory and vascular disease - the blood pressure link

Long-term treatment of high blood pressure may help keep the mind sharp in old age, a new study finds.

"For every year of hypertension treatment, there is increased protection against dementia," study lead author Rita Peila, an epidemiologist at the U.S. National Institute on Aging, said in a prepared statement.

"Hypertension treatment in the very old -- those aged 80 and older -- protects against stroke, heart disease and heart failure, and now we see that there is no harm -- and perhaps a benefit -- on cognitive function," Peila said.

After their initial evaluation at age 77, the men were checked again three and six years later.

Overall, each year of treatment for high blood pressure reduced the risk of developing dementia during the follow-up period by about three percent. Compared to the men who had never been treated for their high blood pressure, the risk of dementia among the men who were treated was:

  • 6 percent lower in those treated less than five years,
  • 48 percent lower in those treated from five to 12 years,
  • 60 percent lower in those treated more than 12 years -- a risk similar to that of men with normal blood pressure.

"We found protection against both Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. There is more and more recognition that there is a vascular component to Alzheimer's disease."

And, more news on dementia:

New research suggests that removal of the ovaries significantly increases a woman's risk for cognitive problems later in life.

The lead author of a study released this week said the findings shouldn't prevent women from having their ovaries removed when they are diseased. However, Dr. Walter Rocca, a professor of neurology and epidemiology at Mayo Clinic, did advise that women be cautious, especially when they undergo the procedure to prevent a disease that hasn't appeared yet.

He added that, because estrogen might be at the root of the problem, estrogen-replacement therapy might help women who do undergo ovary removal avoid cognitive problems.

Keep your blood pressure in check, consider the effects of ovary removal, and of course, exercise to cut dementia risk.


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