Alfredhouse Assisted living care shares with you the ultimate mantra for dementia care!
If you are in your 50s or older and have high blood pressure, you might want to consider bringing your systolic blood pressure down to around 120. Doing so could significantly lower your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and other types of dementia. This is the conclusion based upon an extensive long-term study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association earlier in January this year.
The study, began in 2010, followed over 9,000 people from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds across the United States, who had a systolic blood pressure between 130 and 180 (well above the normal level of 120), but who did not have diabetes or a history of stroke, which often accompany high blood pressure. The main purpose of the study was to determine whether aggressive treatment to bring the blood pressure down to 120 (as opposed to the standard treatment, which brings it down only to 140) would reduce the risk of a heart attack. However, there was also a cognitive component to the study, which assessed whether the aggressive treatment would have any effect on the risk of developing dementia. The study found that those receiving the aggressive treatment had a 19 percent lower risk of developing Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), which is a precursor to dementia.
A large 2018 study with humans, conducted at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Rush University in Chicago, found tau tangles in the brains of those with high blood pressure, when the brains were autopsied after death. (Amyloid plaques and tau tangles were discussed in previous newsletters.)
Scientists are now beginning to uncover the mechanisms by which high blood pressure might lead to dementia. High blood pressure damages what is known as the “blood-brain barrier.” The blood-brain barrier is a filtering system in the brain that protects the brain from exposure to internal harm. It allows certain nutrients, such as oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water, to pass from the blood to the brain, but it blocks the passage of bacteria and toxic substances. High blood pressure damages the fine blood vessels in the blood-brain barrier mechanism. One of the results of this damage is inflammation in the brain. In an earlier newsletter, we looked at the role that inflammation in the brain plays in the accumulation of amyloid plaques and tau tangles.
Lowering blood pressure does not just lower the risk of developing dementia: it could slow down the progression of the disease for those who already have it. A study headed by Dr. Constantine Lyketsos at the Memory and Alzheimer’s Treatment Center at Johns Hopkins found that Alzheimer’s patients with high blood pressure who were having their blood pressure controlled with certain medications were less likely to experience further cognitive decline. It is not clear whether this effect is the result of lowering the blood pressure or of the drugs interfering with other processes associated with Alzheimer’s, and further research is being planned to investigate this question.
Regardless of the findings of this future research, you can keep your blood pressure within the normal range by making lifestyle changes. Maintain a diet rich in vegetables, nuts, fruits, and whole grains, along with poultry, fish, and low-fat dairy products, but low in red meat, sugary drinks, and harmful fats, and free of processed food (including canned vegetables). Maintain a healthy weight by getting plenty of exercise: even modest weight loss can prevent high blood pressure if you are overweight.
At Alfredhouse assisted living care, we take care of the lifestyle and make sure that elders who need dementia care maintain healthy living. We offer complete support and memory care living to the seniors. For more information about us: alfredhouse.com