Monday 23 October 2017
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Drop in blood pressure linked to increase risk of dementia in old age, study suggests

Middle-aged people experiencing temporary drops in blood pressure could have increased risk of dementia 20 years later.

Middle-aged people who experience temporary drops in their blood pressure causing dizziness when they stand up may have an increased risk of developing dementia 20 years later, research from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests today (Friday 10 March 2017).

It is not fully understood why these temporary episodes increase the risk of dementia, but the researchers suggested it is possibly because blood flow is reduced to the brain.

The study involved 15,792 residents from four communities in the United States, between the ages of 45 and 64. For this study, researchers focused on the 11,503 participants who had no history of coronary heart disease or stroke. After 20 minutes lying down, researchers took the participants’ blood pressure upon standing. People with severe drops in blood pressure after lying down were 40% more likely to develop dementia, than those without such severe falls in blood pressure.

Commenting on the study, Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society said:

'It’s well known that high blood pressure in mid-life can increase the risk of developing dementia, but now evidence is emerging to suggest that temporary blood pressure drops may also be associated with dementia. This study of people aged between 45 and 65, found that low blood pressure when standing up after lying down is associated with a greater chance of developing the condition over the following two decades.

'Many people experience this form of low blood pressure which can reduce the blood flow to your brain for a short period and result in a dizzy or lightheaded feeling. It is not necessarily a cause for concern but people who frequently experience these symptoms should seek advice from their GP. More research is needed to investigate whether treating this kind of low blood pressure would reduce dementia risk.'