For older people with mild cognitive impairment or dementia, low blood pressure might be linked to faster mental decline, according to a study.
There is not much data on blood pressure in people with cognitive impairment, said lead author Dr. Enrico Mossello of the University of Florence in Italy. This study is the first to suggest that cognitive declines might happen faster in older people on blood pressure medicine whose systolic pressure – the top number – is low, he said.
Between 2009 and 2012, Mossello and his co-authors analyzed 172 older people. Most had dementia; about a third had only mild cognitive impairment. Almost 70 per cent were taking medication for high blood pressure.
The researchers recorded participants’ blood pressure and their performance on a mental test. They repeated all the measurements six to 18 months later – by which time mental function had declined for the whole group, on average, and disability had increased.
The researchers divided participants into three groups based on daytime readings of systolic blood pressure, which is the “120” of a healthy “120 over 80 millimeters of Mercury” blood pressure reading.
People in the lowest third of systolic blood pressure scores (below 128 mm Hg) had bigger decreases on their mental performance tests than those in the middle and high blood pressure groups, according to results in JAMA Internal Medicine.