Bringing high blood pressure under control can reduce older black Americans’ risk of dementia, a new study finds.

Black people are at high risk for high blood pressure and dementia, the researchers noted.

The study included more than 1,200 black Americans, aged 65 and older, with high blood pressure who did not have dementia. The patients took different types of medications for their high blood pressure and were followed for up to 24 years.

The medications included beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blocks and diuretics.

“We have found even if African Americans control blood pressure when they are 65 and older, the risk of dementia can be reduced,” study corresponding author Michael Murray said. He is a research scientist with the Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis and Purdue University’s College of Pharmacy.

“And we also can now pass along the useful information that you don’t need to take the expensive new drugs on market,” he said in an institute news release. “Older generic medications will work just as well in lowering risk of dementia and are less expensive.”

The study authors concluded that blood pressure reduction — not the medications themselves — is what lowers dementia risk.

“Controlling blood pressure is important for lowering risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney disease,” Murray said. “We can now add prevention of dementia to the list of benefits of good blood pressure control at all ages.”

Preventing dementia is critical. “Once you start the decline from cognitive impairment to mild and eventually severe dementia, there is no known cure,” he explained.

The study was published in the April issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more on high blood pressure.

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