Dementia impacts all areas of your life, from medical to social to economic. Dementia impacts you, your family, and those around you. Increased attention and resources have been directed towards understanding the causes of dementia and possible treatments.

There is evidence linking high blood pressure with dementia. The connection between dementia and hypertension appears to be directly related to blood pressure levels.

Study #1

Over 1400 women over the age of 65 comprised a subset of participants enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative. They were followed for eight years. MRI scans revealed increased white matter lesions in women with high blood pressure. White matter lesions indicate a weak insulation around nerve cells necessary for brain communication.

Study #2

Another study conducted by Johns Hopkins University monitored 983 middle age or older men and women for over 15 years. Similar results were found related to white matter lesions. Greater brain damage was seen with higher blood pressure levels.

Upcoming Research

Now, the connection between high blood pressure and dementia is not clear cut. Some studies have shown high blood pressure treatment to lower dementia risk and others have not found a link. The National Institutes of Health is preparing research that will study 7500 patients with high blood pressure age 55 or older. The purpose will be to evaluate whether or not aggressive treatment to lower systolic blood pressure below 120 mmHg will be healthier when compared to systolic levels below 140 or 130 mmHg.

Blood pressure guidelines

The Joint National Committee defines a blood pressure below 120/80 mmHg to be normal and a blood pressure between 120-139/80-89 mmHg to be pre-hypertension. You do not want to ignore pre-hypertension. In this range blood pressure medication may not be necessary as you’ll be able to make diet and lifestyle changes to lower levels back to normal in many cases.

5 Steps to Lower Blood Pressure

Here are five steps you put in place right now to lower blood pressure levels:

  1. Quit smoking
  2. Lose and/or maintain a healthy weight
  3. Decrease sodium intake to less than 2400 mg/day (new guidelines indicate an even greater restriction is ideal)
  4. Restrict alcohol to less than 1 drink/day for women and 2 drinks or less per day for men
  5. Exercise 30 or more minutes daily
  6. Consume a diet high in fruits and vegetables, such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet to lower blood pressure.
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Be sure to sign up for the free e-course 7 Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure provided by dietitian Lisa Nelson at