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Study Finds Link Between High Blood Pressure And Dementia

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found a link between high blood pressure and dementia.

About one in three American adults have high blood pressure.

Staying sharp and warding off dementia might rely, in part, on doing your best to keep blood pressure at bay. So finds a new study that suggests strict control of hypertension may help prevent dementia.

"Dementia effects about 10 percent of Americans over 65. We don't have a lot of great treatments or preventive measures. And a lot of people don't know that hypertension or high blood pressure can be associated with future risk of dementia, and this is something that is potentially modifiable," said CBS News medical contributor Dr. Tara Narula.

In the study, researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke used MRIs to scan the brains of hundreds of patients with high blood pressure. They found that people who got intensive control of their high blood pressure showed a slowing accumulation of certain lesions in the brain's white matter, compared to people who got standard blood pressure treatment.

"We actually tell people in your 20s you should start getting screened. You should know what your numbers are. Have that very close relationship with your doctor, where if you do have high blood pressure, get it checked often. If you're prescribed medications, please take them every day as prescribed, and then there are a lot of lifestyle things you can do," Narula said. "So we talk about reducing salt in your diet, increasing potassium, exercise, controlling your weight, limiting alcohol consumption, quitting smoking. Lots of things that are in your hands to control your blood pressure."

The study also found that patients who received intensive blood pressure control had slightly more loss of the brain's volume compared to people who got standard treatment.

The results match a previous study which also shows treatment lowered the chance of cognitive impairment.

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