Hypertension is Associated With Cognitive Decline in Elderly People at High Risk for Dementia

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Cardiovascular risk factors including hypertension (HTN) have been shown to increase the risk of Alzheimer disease. The current study investigated whether individuals with HTN are more susceptible to increased cognitive decline and whether the influence of HTN on cognitive decline varied as a function of dementia severity. A total of 224 nursing home and assisted living residents, with a mean age of 84.9 (±7.6) years, were assessed longitudinally with Mini Mental State Exams (MMSEs) and Clinical Dementia Ratings (CDR). Baseline dementia status was defined by the CDR score. As described in Table 2, MMSE scores in persons with HTN and questionable dementia (CDR = 0.5) declined significantly faster than nonhypertensive questionably demented persons. Hypertensive participants did not decline significantly faster than nonhypertensive participants in persons with intact cognition (CDR = 0) or frank dementia (CDR ≥ 1). These results suggest an increased risk of subsequent cognitive decline in hypertensive individuals who are especially vulnerable to developing dementia and raises the possibility that avoiding or controlling HTN might reduce the rate of cognitive decline in cognitively vulnerable individuals, potentially delaying their conversion to full-fledged dementia.

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