Is "tricky blood" clouding your judgment?

Written by Alex Reid
Posted June 16, 2020

Dear Reader,

Does your blood pressure get a little "tricky" sometimes? 

As if there aren’t enough reasons to keep your blood pressure under control...

There is now a strong link between high blood pressure and dementia — but only in women. 

Studies show that women in their 40s with high blood pressure have a 73% increased risk of developing dementia.

Between 1964 and 1973, the researchers monitored the blood pressure of 7,238 men and women, starting at the average age of 33 and ending at the average age of 44.

Right around 22% of the participants had high blood pressure in their 30s, with more men experiencing high blood pressure than women — 31% and 14%, respectively.

In their 40s, about 22% still had high blood pressure. However, this time, the number of men with elevated blood pressure levels dropped to 25% and the number of women climbed to 18%.

The researchers reexamined these participants after 15 years. And what they discovered was that 532 had developed dementia — most of which were women.

Surprisingly, those with high blood pressure in their 30s were not at high risk for developing dementia.

However, women with high blood pressure levels in their 40s were at a significantly higher risk of developing dementia later in life.

And get this:

Men with hypertension in their 40s don’t seem to be at any more risk of dementia than men with normal blood pressure levels.

For a long time, we’ve known that having high blood pressure in the middle of your life can significantly increase the chances you’ll develop neurodegenerative diseases later in life.

But the fact that this study suggests that there’s a difference in risk between women and men for dementia is unexpected. And the reasons this difference in risk exists between sexes aren't entirely clear.

What is clear is that more research needs to be done to discover the differences between men and women when it comes to brain aging.

Since this study was done, many breakthroughs have been made when it comes to treating high blood pressure with medicine. Can blood pressure medications lessen the risk of developing dementia?

These questions are still being explored and may even take another multi-decade study to figure out.

Regardless, it’s best to steer clear of hypertension by shaking bad habits and developing healthy ones.

Of course, there are hereditary factors that increase hypertension risk. But there are also many risk factors that can be controlled, including:

  • Being overweight/obese.
  • Consuming too much salt/sodium.
  • Not getting enough exercise.
  • Stress.
  • Drinking more than two alcoholic drinks a day.
  • Smoking.
  • Not getting enough sleep.

“Much like we have research-based interventions for heart health and cancer prevention, we hope to have guidance based on this and subsequent studies that will more definitively show how to slow or even stop dementia well before symptoms appear,” explained Laurie Ryan, Ph.D., chief of the Dementias of Aging Branch of the NIA Division of Neuroscience.1

If you want to keep a healthy mind into your later years...

Focus on keeping your blood pressure levels under control NOW.

To your health,

Alex Reid
President, Longevity Insider HQ