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Lowering high blood pressure later in life reduced a person’s risk of dementia by 13 percent, a recent study has found. This was true even after considering other factors that increase dementia risk.

Researchers analyzed the findings of five large studies investigating the effects of reducing blood pressure in older adults (average age, 69 years) on the risk of dementia. The studies involved more than 28,000 people from 20 countries and spanned roughly four years.

They found that reducing high blood pressure cut the risk of a person developing dementia by approximately 13 percent, even after considering a person’s age, sex, history of stroke, body mass index, and whether they had diabetes. When they looked at specific ranges of systolic blood pressure, they noted that the greatest risk reduction – 23 percent – was seen among those whose systolic pressure was less than 147 mmHg.

Nearly two-thirds of adults living in the United States have high blood pressure, defined as having a systolic pressure of 130 mmHg or higher or a diastolic pressure of 80 mmHg or higher. High blood pressure increases a person’s risk for heart disease and stroke and contributes to small vessel disease, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, dementia, and stroke.

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