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Slightly Elevated Blood Pressure After 80 May Help Against Alzheimer’s

Watching a loved one suffer, especially with Alzheimer’s disease, can be heart breaking. But hope is out there in the fight against many forms of dementia. A recent study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association reveals that the onset of high blood pressure later in life can be connected with a lower risk for dementia in people over the age of 90, particularly if those people develop hypertension at age 80 or older. If you have a loved one in a home health care setting or in hospice suffering from Alzheimer’s in Alameda County, you will want to read on.

The Study

The study was performed by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, to combat claims that high blood pressure and other health risk factors have been found to boost dementia risk. The study followed about 560 people with the average age of 93 for nearly three years in an attempt to find a relationship between dementia, age at hypertension development and measurements for blood pressure. The participants did not suffer from dementia at the onset of the study, and were evaluated every six months.

The follow-up period revealed 40 percent of participants were diagnosed with dementia. Researchers concluded that those who reported onset of hypertension between the ages of 80 and 89 were 42 percent less likely to be diagnosed with dementia after 90, contrasted with those who had no history of elevated blood pressure. The numbers were even better for older folks. Those who developed hypertension at 90 or older were 63 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

The conclusion? Hypertension is actually not a risk factor for dementia in those over 90; in fact, it’s associated with a lower risk of dementia, suggesting that many risk factors previously connected with dementia can change over the course of people’s lives.


So, this begs the question…why? There may be several reasons, including that blood pressure may need to increase over time in order to keep a good rate of blood flow to the brain for normal functioning, points out WebMD. Another reason could be that blood pressure tends to drop as dementia sets in because brain cells start to deteriorate, meaning that elderly people who do not develop dementia will have elevated blood pressure. High blood pressure is also thought to reduce frailty and disability.

That being said, the medical community still makes a distinction between the classes of high blood pressure. It’s not good for everyone! It can be classified as young adult onset, which damages the heart, kidney, eyes and brain blood vessels; and late-life hypertension, brought on by a brain that is distressed, with neurological mechanisms that cause blood pressure to rise so as to boost blood flow and relieve that stress.

Maintaining Good Heart Health

These findings aren’t meant to suggest we don’t take care of our hearts as we age. Rather, it’s imperative to maintain good heart health for a longer life to enjoy! That’s because keeping your high blood pressure low now can reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke and other serious illnesses, says Everyday Health. Here are some tips to prevent hypertension:

  1. Maintain a healthy weight. Overweight people should try to shed pounds, while those of normal weight should avoid putting on the pounds, even just a few. In fact, losing just 10 pounds can help prevent high blood pressure.
  2. Eat a balanced diet. Keep your blood pressure under control with a healthy diet. Make sure you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, particularly those that are high in potassium. Nix the foods with empty, excess calories, fat and sugar.
  3. Reduce your salt intake. A low-sodium diet will keep blood pressure in a normal range. Stay away from high-sodium packaged and processed foods and don’t put a salt shaker on the dinner table.
  4. Exercise regularly. Physical activity is vital in the fight against hypertension. Even exercising for 30 minutes three times a week will help.
  5. Limit alcohol intake. Consuming too much alcohol leads to high blood pressure. Women should limit themselves to one drink a day, while men should have no more than two.
  6. Monitor your blood pressure. Make sure your doctor measures your blood pressure regularly, or do it at home. Many times, there are no outward symptoms with high blood pressure, so you really need a reading to determine if your pressure is elevated.

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

Here at Pathways Home Health and Hospice, we offer many resources for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers. Please contact us to learn more about how we can help you navigate this difficult time, with a team of caregivers and medical staff dedicated to a higher quality of life for you and your loved one. Call today at 888-755-7855, email us at [email protected] or fill out our online form.