Oct. 14, 2002 -- Remembering to take your blood pressure medications regularly may not only keep your heart healthy, but it could keep your mind sharp as well. New research shows older blacks who took the drugs to lower their blood pressure also cut their risk of memory loss by more than a third.
The study appears in the Oct. 14 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
"We have a lot of medications that keep people alive longer, but few to maintain their memories," says researcher Michael D. Murray, PharmD, MPH, professor of pharmacy at Purdue University, in a news release. "Our study provides African Americans with yet another reason, in addition to preventing stroke, heart attacks, and kidney problems, to take their blood pressure pills."
Researchers say it's the first study to find a link between blood pressure-lowering medications and cognitive impairment in black seniors. A similar reduction in risk has already been found in white seniors.
According to federal statistics, about a quarter of all Americans between the ages of 20 and 74 years have high blood pressure. But the prevalence of hypertension is 60% higher among blacks, and their risk of stroke is also 60% greater than whites.
The study looked at 1,900 African American adults over 65 who had no signs of cognitive impairment. About two-thirds of the group also had high blood pressure. After about five years of follow-up, researchers found use of blood pressure-lowering medications reduced the risk of memory loss by 38%.
Although the relationship between high blood pressure and memory loss is complex, researchers say their findings support the need for heightened efforts to detect, treat, and monitor hypertension, especially among those at greatest risk for complications.