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Lowering High Blood Pressure Can Reverse Some Dementia in the Elderly

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At 12 weeks, both thinking and memory improved by 15% to 40%, and there were similar improvements in gait and other movements, says Jacobson. These improvements were still present at six months, he says.

 

The patients who had the most marked improvements on the memory and psychological tests -- about a third of the patients -- also had a type of brain scan called a PET scan. "PET scans measure brain activity and brain metabolism," says Jacobson. "The scans demonstrated a high level of brain activity in these patients."

 

Marvin Moser, MD, clinical professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine, tells WebMD that data from other studies suggest that controlling blood pressure in patients as old as 80 can improve many aspects of life, including cognitive function. He says that although high blood pressure is called "a silent killer, patients often tell us that they don't feel that well when they have high blood pressure. When the pressure comes down, the patient feels better."

 

Moser, who wasn't involved in the study, is an outspoken advocate for the elderly. He says that treating high blood pressure in an 80-year-old reduces the patient's risk of stroke and heart failure, as well as improving cognitive function.

 

Jacobson says that he is planning a much larger study to confirm the results of his small study.

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