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Lower blood pressure could prevent dementia

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Doctors and researchers are discovering more and more, what's good for the heart is good for the brain.

A new study suggests lowering the standard blood pressure target number helps both your heart and your brain.

Phyllis Leppert, 80, of Salt Lake City, needed to get her blood pressure under control.

"When I got here, my blood pressure was a little out of control," said Leppert.

She came to see Dr. Mark Supiano, a geriatrician at the University of Utah Health and the Salt Lake City VA Hospital.

Dr. Supiano has just been involved in a five-year study looking at 8,500 patients, 50 and older with high risk of cardiovascular disease.

"It suggests lower is better and it's the first solid evidence what has been shown to be good for the heart is now good for the brain," said Dr. Supian.

The randomized clinical trial funded by NIH compared the standard number of 140 systolic rates to the lower target of 120 or below. Systolic blood pressure is the top number that indicates the pressure your blood is exerting when your heart beats.

The more intensive treatment to lower their blood pressure to below 120 gave patients a dramatic 19 percent lower chance of developing memory loss.

"Preventing dementia and mild cognitive impairment is a big deal," said Dr. Supian.

It's something Phyllis takes personally.

"My grandfather had Alzheimer's disease and I was always concerned about that kind of thinking," said Phyllis.

"We have been struggling for decades to try to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease and frankly have not had any success. So this is the first good news there is really hope that we can prevent the development of mild cognitive impairment which is the doorway to dementia. If we can delay the onset of dementia by 2 years by 2040 20 percent less people or 2.2 million fewer people will have dementia relative to current projection, "said Dr. Supian.

The results of the study were so promising that the trial stopped. But due to further questions about the link to dementia, the Alzheimer's Association has funded research for 2 more years.

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