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Does High Blood Pressure Increase Your Risk for Dementia? Here’s What You Need to Know Today!

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Does High Blood Pressure Increase Your Risk for Dementia? Here’s What You Need to Know Today!

Dementia care specialists have said for years that maintaining normal blood pressure is good for heart health, which in turn supports good brain health. Now researchers are saying that there appears to be a direct link between high blood pressure and the risk of dementia.  Today, high blood pressure affects one in three people in the US.

According to scientists, uncontrolled high blood pressure is now being viewed as a cause of dementia. They say important new studies link high blood pressure -- particularly in middle age – to an increased risk of dementia later on in life.

As noted in the recent article, Worried About Dementia? You Might Want to Check Your Blood Pressure, Walter Koroshetz, MD, Director of NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, says, “People need to think about how they can decrease their chances of developing dementia in later life. With what we now know, controlling hypertension (blood pressure) is at the top of the list.”

"I'm a believer," Dr. Koroshetz says. He routinely practices effective blood pressure management techniques such as exercising and paying attention to his weight and diet to keep his blood pressure down and reduce his own risk of dementia.

Ways to Control Your Blood Pressure and Reduce the Risk of Dementia

Says Crystal Yost, PCHA, PCH, Administrator at Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr located in Bryn Mawr, PA, “The good news is that there are a variety of helpful steps you can start today to reduce your blood pressure – steps that could spare you from having dementia later in life.”

The National Institutes of Health Mind Your RisksR campaign and other authoritative sources such as Harvard Health and Medical News Today suggest several simple yet effective lifestyle changes that can reduce your chances of all types of stroke, heart disease and likely dementia later in life.

Note: Lifestyle changes are often the first approach doctors try in patients with high blood pressure and they can be very effective. Consult with your doctor first to determine what changes and activities would be best for you.

Examples of blood pressure reduction activities:

  • Exercise regularly – Walking and other forms of exercise are among the best things you can do to lower high blood pressure and reduce your risk of dementia later on in life. Walking just 30 minutes a day can help lower your blood pressure and additional exercise can reduce it even more.
  • Lose weight – If you are currently overweight, losing those added pounds can make a big difference in your blood pressure.
  • Cut back on the sodium – Try to cut down on the salt in your diet, as several studies have linked salt to high blood pressure and heart problems.
  • Eat healthy – Consider the DASH Diet Eating Plan. It has been proven to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and is associated with lower risk of several types of cancer, heart disease, stroke, heart failure, kidney stones, reduced risk of developing diabetes, can slow the progression of kidney disease, and now is associated with reduced risk of depression.
  • Learn to manage stress Stress is a major cause of high blood pressure, so look for the best ways to reduce yours.  Stress reduction activities can include listening to relaxing music, meditation, yoga, tai chi, exercise and more.
  • Reduce your caffeine Cut back on your daily caffeine intake to see if it lowers your blood pressure. For example, try cutting back your three cups a day to just two.
  • Stop smoking – Smoking damages virtually every organ in your body, especially your heart and blood vessels.
  • Drink less alcohol Drinking alcohol can raise blood pressure, and it is linked to 16% of high blood pressure cases around the world.
  • Lower your high cholesterol – Reducing your cholesterol can also lower your blood pressure and your risk of heart disease stroke and dementia. When your arteries become hardened and narrowed with cholesterol plaque and calcium (atherosclerosis), your heart has to strain much harder to pump blood through them and your blood pressure can become abnormally high.
  • Treat yourself to some dark chocolate! – For a tasty treat, indulge yourself with small amounts of dark chocolate. Dark chocolate and cocoa powder are rich in flavonoids, which cause blood vessels to expand. Research studies have found that they improve several markers of heart health over the short term, including lowering blood pressure.

Heather adds, “Lifestyle changes can be very helpful in controlling blood pressure, but many people also require medications. Therefore, develop a plan with your doctor for maintaining a healthy blood pressure level and follow it closely. This includes taking blood pressure medication as prescribed and on schedule. Your diligence now can pay off later by maintaining your brain health and avoiding dementia.”

We encourage you to contact us with any questions you have on memory care or to schedule a tour. Also, we invite you to read our timely articles on dementia care topics posted on our website. In addition to providing exceptional memory care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease, we are also an education and support resource for at-home caregivers throughout the Main Line.

We Would Love to Hear from You!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, “Does High Blood Pressure Increase Your Risk for Dementia? Here’s What You Need to Know Today,” we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences in our comments section.

Engaging Days. Meaningful Moments.

Loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments require specialized care and support. They also deserve a lifestyle rich in dignity and fulfillment. Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr provides residents with Engaging Days and Meaningful Moments that emphasize individual abilities, encourage socialization and promote the highest level of independence possible. We offer a complete continuum of leading-edge programs, services and amenities that address the total physical, emotional and social needs of residents in a caring setting that offers individual suites with large private baths and the comfort of home. Our memory care community touches hearts and changes lives.

Helping Families Be “Family” Again

Memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another form of memory impairment doesn’t only affect the person who has it – it affects the entire family.

If you have a loved one with early- to mid-stage memory loss, you know how challenging it can be to provide the care that’s needed while trying to maintain balance in your life. As care needs increase, you may not be able to meet them physically or emotionally. It’s often difficult to be available to care for your loved one’s health and well-being around the clock.

If and when the time comes to seek additional help, place your trust in Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr. We lift the stresses and worries of being a caregiver from your shoulders, enabling you and your family to enjoy time with your loved one again.

For more information, please call Sharon at 484.380.5404 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.