Women who develop high blood pressure in their 40s may be more likely to develop dementia later in life, according to a study.
The research, published in the medical journal Neurology, found that women who developed high blood pressure in their thirties and forties were 73% more likely to develop dementia than women who had stable, normal blood pressure throughout these years.
7238 people within the Kaiser Permanente Northern California health care system participated in the study.
Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “It is a well-established fact that high blood pressure in mid-life can increase our chances of developing dementia in later life. Previous research has shown links between hypertension and dementia among both sexes so this work suggesting a link in women but not men is surprising.
“The younger age of people involved in this study compared to previous ones may partly explain the difference, but as this new research goes against the grain we need to see more studies to fully understand possible sex differences in blood pressure and dementia risk.
“We should be mindful that this study tested the blood pressure of people in a particular health-scheme in Northern California in the 1960s and 70s. Since then there have been advances in how blood pressure is treated – so it’s not clear how relevant the findings of this study are to the present UK population.”
Dr Brown went on to add that the Lancet Commission on dementia suggested there is good evidence that treatment of hypertension reduces the chances of developing the condition. “We also know that keeping in good health may help reduce your risk of dementia and the NHS recommends that people over 40 should have blood pressure tested every five years with their GP or pharmacy.”