If you know someone who suffers from dementia, you know that conversations become increasingly difficult as the disease progresses. Your loved one shares the same information over and over again, asks the same questions, and replies to the answers as if it’s the first time hearing them. She can recall, in detail, stories from her childhood, but cannot remember your husband’s name. You do your best to encourage her when she forgets, pretend like you haven’t repeated yourself multiple times, and share in her enthusiasm when old information to you is new to her. Do you wish there was something that could have prevented this terrible disease from ruining her mind? Unfortunately, dementia and other forms of mild cognitive impairment cannot be cured once they start. But a new study may indicate there might be a way to prevent it.
Mild Cognitive Impairment
Mild cognitive impairment, MCI, is a neurological disorder that inhibits the cognitive process. Memory loss is the main descriptor of MCI and often a precursor to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s believed that half of the people diagnosed with MCI progress to dementia within five years. The risk of MCI is typically associated with age and heredity but the exact cause is unknown. Despite the staggering fact that 50 million people in the world suffer from dementia, little is known about the disease. Doctors and researchers have determined that medication is the best way to treat symptoms, but a cure has yet to be established. Recently, however, research indicates that managing blood pressure may lower the risk of MCI.
How Blood Pressure Affects the Brain
Dr. Jeff Williamson of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina forged the study that linked low blood pressure to preventing mild cognitive impairment. The study followed 9,300 people with high blood pressure and assessed the medication used to lower their pressure. High blood pressure is defined as a top number of 130 or more. A normal blood pressure is below 120. The study revealed a shocking 19% decrease in MCI in the group of people who successfully lowered their blood pressure. Dr. Williamson believes that preventing MCI may be more important than preventing dementia since dementia is often the second diagnosis. His study indicates that maintaining a healthy blood pressure in your 30s and 40s could go a long way in preventing cognitive problems later in life.
Managing High Blood Pressure
It’s not too early to take control of your health and manage your blood pressure. It is worth making simple lifestyle adjustments if they will help reduce both your blood pressure and possibly your risk for dementia. Maintain a healthy weight by eating a well-balanced diet with limited amounts of salt. Exercise regularly, reduce alcohol consumption, quit smoking, and manage your stress. These efforts will effectively lower your blood pressure, or keep it from rising. The goal is to have a top number that is below 120. If you struggle with high blood pressure, you may need medication to help you reach your goal. If your current blood pressure is not high, keep this checklist in mind. It may help you prevent a rise in your pressure as well as a rise of other health issues. If you have questions or concerns about your blood pressure, don’t hesitate to make an appointment at The Woman’s Clinic today. No matter your age, our doctors are ready to help you lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of mild cognitive impairment.