Aggressive treatment for lowering blood pressure in older people has been shown to reduce the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, a risk factor for dementia, US researchers said on Monday.
While the results of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) did not reveal any significant impact on the likelihood of developing dementia, experts said the process offers a glimmer of hope as the world's population ages and dementia becomes a growing concern.
Dementia, including its most common form, Alzheimer's disease, should affect 115 million people worldwide by 2050.
So far, the best scientific minds in the world have not found a way to prevent, treat or treat dementia reliably.
But some research has suggested that hypertension, which affects three-quarters of people over 75, could be a modifiable risk factor.
For the systolic blood pressure test (SPRINT), more than 9,300 people aged 50 or over with hypertension (systolic blood pressure between 130 and 180 mm Hg) were randomized to receive different interventions.
Some received intensive blood pressure control, with drugs targeted at 120 mm of mercury.
More standard treatment
Others aimed at a more standard treatment target of less than 140 mm Hg.
Patients were followed for about five years and underwent a series of cognitive tests.
In the intensive care group, 149 participants were deemed to have a probable dementia, compared to 176 participants in the standard treatment group.
In other words, intensive control of blood pressure "did not significantly reduce the incidence of probable dementia," the study said.
However, the researchers were cautiously optimistic about a secondary conclusion that a mild cognitive impairment occurred in many less participants in the intensive treatment group – 287 compared to 353 participants in the standard treatment group.
"This is the first study, to our knowledge, to demonstrate an intervention that significantly reduces the onset of MCI, a well-defined risk factor for dementia," the study said.
An accompanying editorial in JAMA by Kristine Yaffe from the University of California at San Francisco also highlighted the possibility that more research can confirm the technique as an effective prevention strategy.
"For the elderly, almost all concerned with being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia, SPRINT MIND offers high hopes," he wrote.
"The study shows that among those suffering from hypertension, intensive control of SBP can reduce the development of cognitive impairment."
He asked to study the approach along with other vascular health efforts, such as physical activity and prevention.
Maria Carrillo, scientific director of the Alzheimer & # 39; s Association, who is funding an extension of the two-year study to investigate further effects on dementia, has defined the results "the strongest evidence so far on risk reduction. of mild cognitive impairment through the treatment of high blood pressure.
"MCI is a known risk factor for dementia, and all those who experience dementia go through MCI," added Carrillo.
"However, the outcome of the dementia reduction study was not definitive," hence the need for further research, he said.