Study: Blood pressure control reduces risk of MCI, dementia


DAYTON – Significant reductions in the risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and the combination of MCI and dementia, have been shown for the first time through aggressive lowering of systolic blood pressure in new research results from the federally-funded SPRINT MIND Study reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2018 in Chicago.

“This is the first randomized clinical trial to demonstrate a reduction in new cases of MCI alone and the combined risk of MCI plus all-cause dementia,” said Jeff D. Williamson, MD, MHS, Professor of Internal Medicine and Epidemiology and Chief, Section on Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine. Williamson reported these results at AAIC 2018.

The results of this large-scale, long-term clinical trial provide the strongest evidence to date about reducing risk of MCI and dementia through the treatment of high blood pressure, which is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease worldwide.

“Conventional wisdom has always held that ‘what’s good for the heart is good for the brain.’ This study clearly supports that,” said Dr. Doug Pugar, board certified neurologist at the Dayton Center for Neurological Disorders.

“Unfortunately, we still do not have a cure for this horrible illness, so focusing on ways in which we might be able to prevent it are critical. There are several known mid-life risk factors which, if not addressed, appear to increase the risks for dementia later in life. Untreated hypertension clearly appears to be one of those risk factors,” Pugar said.

Pugar has a special interest in treating dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease and has been published in a national medical journal on the topic.

“This study shows more conclusively than ever before that there are things you can do — especially regarding cardiovascular disease risk factors — to reduce your risk of MCI and dementia,” said Maria C. Carrillo, PhD, Alzheimer’s Association Chief Science Officer. “To reduce new cases of MCI and dementia globally we must do everything we can — as professionals and individuals — to reduce blood pressure to the levels indicated in this study, which we know is beneficial to cardiovascular risk.”

Carrillo pointed out that these results fit well with recent population data showing reductions in new cases of dementia in developed Western cultures. These lower rates of dementia may be occurring as these societies have begun to improve control of cardiovascular disease risk factors through medication management, reducing smoking, and greater awareness of healthy lifestyle.

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“The future of reducing MCI and dementia could be in treating the whole person with a combination of drugs and modifiable risk factor interventions — as we do now in heart disease,” Carrillo suggested. “These new blood pressure findings raise our level of anticipation for the U.S. POINTER Study, which includes managing cardiovascular disease risk factors as part of the multi-component lifestyle intervention.”

The Alzheimer’s Association U.S. Study to Protect Brain Health Through Lifestyle Intervention to Reduce Risk (U.S. POINTER) is a two-year clinical trial funded by the Alzheimer’s Association to evaluate whether lifestyle interventions can protect cognitive function in older adults at increased risk for cognitive decline. The interventions include physical exercise, nutritional counseling and modification, cognitive and social stimulation, and improved self-management of health status.

About the Alzheimer’s Association

The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement or research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. Approximately 5.7 million in the U.S. are living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Almost 220,000 Ohioans are living with dementia. In the Miami Valley, about 30,000 people have dementia and approximately 100,000 people serve as their caregivers. The mission of the Alzheimer’s Association is carried out in Ohio by seven local chapters coordinating care and support, awareness, fundraising and advocacy initiatives. For more information on the Alzheimer’s Association call 800-272-3900, or visit alz.org.