High Blood Pressure in Your 40s: Does It Lead to Dementia?

High blood pressure has been tied to potentially fatal conditions like stroke, heart attack, and heart and kidney failure. A new study adds one more serious condition into the mix, linking a mid-adulthood incidence of high blood pressure and dementia later in life. While the connection between high blood pressure and dementia risks have previously been recognized by the medical community, the implications of this study may help experts improve dementia risk screening, forestall its onset, or even prevent this irreversible condition.

Researchers had access to three different periods of health data from patients in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California healthcare system beginning in 1964 and up through 2015: early adulthood in which participants were in their early 30s, mid-adulthood when they were in their mid 40s, and late adulthood with an average age of 60. After the period of late adulthood, researchers tracked dementia incidence through the end of the study in 2015. Over 5,600 men and women were included in the study.

By the end of the study, 532 of the participants, or just over nine percent, were diagnosed with dementia. A bit less than one-quarter of all patients had hypertension in their 30s and 40s. Women who were hypertensive in their 40s faced a 65 percent higher risk of developing dementia compared to individuals who were not hypertensive and had stable blood pressure. (A study from earlier this year found that individuals whose blood pressure fluctuated throughout the day had a significantly higher risk of dementia.)

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