Hypertension and Alzheimer’s- What’s the Link?

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Hypertension and Alzheimer’s- What’s the Link?

July 26, 2019 Written by: Costectomy

Alzheimer’s disease is a well-known form of  dementia and notorious for its devastating consequences. The exact cause is not known, but several lifestyle diseases are believed to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. The most significant risk factor is high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. 

What’s the evidence linking hypertension to Alzheimer’s disease?

Many case studies show that Alzheimer’s patients typically suffered from hypertension years before disease onset. It has been shown that adults who suffer from hypertension in middle age (between 40 and 60 years) are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease later on in life. Adults aged 40 to 60 and suffering from hypertension are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s later on in life than adults without high blood pressure. The risk of Alzheimer’s is considerably reduced for similarly aged adults receiving treatment for hypertension.  Studies found that patients with untreated hypertension showed degeneration in the hippocampus, the section of the brain responsible for cognitive function. 

Research actually points to anti-hypertension drugs as a possible prevention against Alzheimer’s.  A certain class of anti-hypertensives, called potassium-sparing diuretics, has been found to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by as much as 75%. These drugs are also noted in slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s in affected patients.  

How can high blood pressure lead to Alzheimer’s disease?

The constant pressure on blood vessel walls causes the vessels  to stiffen. The vessel cavity then narrows, impairing blood flow to the brain.  Deprived of the necessary amounts of essential nutrients and oxygen, the brain cells will then get damaged and die.

What can I do if I have hypertension?

First, visit your GP regularly and check your blood pressure; hypertension does not always have visible symptoms. If your blood pressure  is too high, your GP will decide if you should begin medication. You will need to make certain lifestyle changes, such as decreasing your salt and caffeine intake and quitting smoking. The main focus is in managing and controlling your blood pressure. This can substantially reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease later in life. 

REFERENCES

  1. Skoog I, Gustafson D. Update on hypertension and Alzheimer’s disease. Neurological research. 2006 Sep 1;28(6):605-11.
  2. Khachaturian AS, Zandi PP, Lyketsos CG, Hayden KM, Skoog I, Norton MC, Tschanz JT, Mayer LS, Welsh-Bohmer KA, Breitner JC. Antihypertensive medication use and incident Alzheimer disease: the Cache County Study. Archives of neurology. 2006 May 1;63(5):686-92.
  3. Feldstein CA. Association between chronic blood pressure changes and development of Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 2012 Jan 1;32(3):753-63.