September 6, 2019 – Drop in Blood Pressure and Dementia


Anchor lead: Paying attention to dropping blood pressure in later life is needed, Elizabeth Tracey reports

People with high blood pressure or hypertension have about a 50% increased risk for dementia as they age, a Johns Hopkins study by Keenan Walker and colleagues has confirmed. But in those with the condition, if blood pressure fell in late life – so called hypotension - the increased risk was 62%.

Walker: About 20% of individuals in our cohort have late life hypotension. I think the main takeaway from this study is that although you want to treat hypertension you don’t want to overtreat hypertension, because especially for older people who have a long history of hypertension dropping blood pressure too low in older adulthood seems to be associated with risk for dementia and mild cognitive impairment which is predementia phase. You want to preserve blood pressure within this range of normalcy, and not overtreat or undertreat hypertension.  :30

Walker says keeping a close eye on blood pressure and adjusting medications appropriately is critical. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.