Doctors have been debating the link between high blood pressure (hypertension) and cognitive decline for decades (BMC Cardiovascular Disorders, Nov. 3, 2016). They have been equally divided and uncertain on how to proceed. On the one hand, lowering blood pressure can reduce the chance of strokes or even microvascular clots causing damage to brain tissue. On the other hand, if blood pressure drops too low, the brain may not get enough oxygen to function well. Do people taking blood pressure medicines have a lower chance of developing Alzheimer disease?
Blood Pressure Medicines for Better Brain Function:
Despite an association between hypertension and dementia, experts have been less clear that lowering blood pressure with medications will reduce the risk of Alzheimer disease. A meta-analysis involving 12 studies and over 90,000 participants has just addressed that question (JAMA, May 19, 2020).
The researchers found that over four years, people who took blood pressure medicines were slightly less likely to be diagnosed with dementia or cognitive impairment. To be precise, 7.0% of the subjects taking blood pressure drugs developed measurable cognitive deficits. The proportion developing dementia among those on placebo was 7.5%. The investigators found no significant difference in cognitive test scores.
What Is Good for the Brain?
In general, experts believe that what is good for the heart is also good for the brain. Consequently, they advise people to maintain a weight, eat a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables and make exercise an important part of the weekly regimen. The new research suggests that we should also do our best to avoid hypertension, even if it means we must take blood pressure medicines.
You can learn more about controlling your blood pressure with medications or natural approaches in our eGuide to Blood Pressure Solutions. Your may also want to listen to Show 1180: How to Eat to Nourish Your Brain. Clams and mussels are great sources of zinc, for example. This mineral is not only helpful for the brain. In addition, it is essential for strong immune function. That is especially important in this time of COVID-19.