High Blood Pressure and the Increased Dementia Risk

Untreated high blood pressure is linked to an increased risk of dementia. Taking medication to lower your high blood pressure can reduce the risk of dementia. If you have been diagnosed, it could slow the progression.

Someone in my life who I dearly love has been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and has chosen not to take medication that will treat her incredibly high blood pressure. She is brilliant, curious, and didn’t like how it made her feel after a few days so she stopped taking it.

I understand pill aversion and I am guessing I might be on that side of the fence when it’s my turn to start taking medication.

If you are a logical person and you know that:

  1. Taking high blood pressure medication can reduce the risk of dementia;
  2. Once diagnosed, taking high blood pressure medication can slow the progression of dementia;

…. shouldn’t you work to find a high blood pressure medication that works for you?

Ask your doctor for a different option is the one you took made you feel different.

I can only imagine how a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment and dementia may feel. I do see how many things seem to be taken away and life changes for the dozens of clients I have worked with over the years. I understand the feeling of loss as well as witness the inability to understand the impact of dementia on an individual’s ability to manage (Anosogosnosia).

What I hope is that I will find a way to help the person I love reconsider their choice because it could lead to a devastating impact should she have a stroke. It will also put the health of her husband at risk since caregivers often predecease the person they are caring for. It is not my choice to make, but I do hope information can help. Doing nothing in this case actually seems to me to be the worst choice.

However, I was told “It is an act of love to offer the compassion & love for another’s journey without enforcing your own judgement & viewpoints.” And that I will do. Tried.

Research from the NIH National Institute on Aging published in December 2019 reported “Treating high blood pressure with medication not only improves older adults’ cardiovascular health, but also can reduce their risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, according to a thorough examination of long-term data from four countries.”

If someone has already been diagnosed Johns Hopkins Medicine reports “… if you didn’t have Alzheimer’s and you were taking blood pressure medication, you were somewhat less likely to develop dementia. And if you had dementia from Alzheimer’s disease and you took certain antihypertensives, the disease was less likely to progress.”

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