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Lowering blood pressure can help prevent dementia, study says

By Natasha O’Neill, writer

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    Toronto, Ontario (CTV Network) — A new study of more than 28,000 people provides evidence that lowering blood pressure later in life can reduce the risk of dementia, researchers say.

The study from the Australia-based George Institute for Global Health looked at individuals from 20 countries with an average age of 69 and a history of high blood pressure.

“We found there was a significant effect of treatment in lowering the odds of dementia associated with a sustained reduction in blood pressure in this older population,” Dr. Ruth Peters, associate professor at the University of New South Wales and program lead for dementia at the George Institute, said in a news release, noting that any preventative measures for dementia are a welcome step forward.

According to the release, dementia affects an estimated 50 million people worldwide, a number projected to triple by 2050 due to aging populations. The Alzheimer Society of Canada estimates that nearly 956,000 people in Canada will be living with dementia in 2030.

“Given population ageing and the substantial costs of caring for people with dementia, even a small reduction could have a considerable global impact,” Peters said. “Our study suggests that using readily available treatments to lower blood pressure is currently one of our ‘best bets’ to tackle this insidious disease.”

Dementia is a deteriorating disease that rapidly decays the memory and mental state of the person with it.

To examine the relationship between blood pressure and dementia, researchers analyzed five double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trials that used different blood pressure-lowering treatments and followed patients until the development of dementia.

According to the report, many studies previously looked at the health benefits of lower blood pressure but not how it affects the risk of dementia. Researchers hope the results will equip public health institutions with the tools to reduce dementia across communities.

However, the research still leaves some unanswered questions.

“What we still don’t know is whether additional blood pressure lowering in people who already have it well-controlled or starting treatment earlier in life would reduce the long-term risk of dementia,” Peters said.

CANADA NOT PREPARED FOR DEMENTIA PATIENTS: REPORT This discovery is important to Canada since a separate report by CanAge, a national seniors’ advocacy organization, noted the country will face an influx of dementia patients large enough to overwhelm its health-care system between now and 2050.

According to the report, the risk of dementia doubles at age 85 to 25 percent and with more than seven million Canadians over the age of 65 today, the period to prepare is diminishing rapidly.

Part of the problem lies with the number of health-care professionals trained to diagnose dementia early in older adults. In 2016 only two out of five doctors felt they were prepared to manage community dementia care.

Canada released a national dementia strategy in 2019, one of only 39 United Nations member states to do so.

With files from’s Megan DeLaire

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - Regional

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