Dementia risk factors remain similar for men and women, Not high blood pressure; Study

By Ashika Rajan, Trainee Reporter
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Researchers at the Australia-based George Institute for Global Health have found that while the association between certain mid-life cardiovascular risk factors and dementia was similar for both sexes, for blood pressure it was not.

The study showed that in men, both low and high blood pressure was linked to an increased risk of dementia, while in women, the risk of dementia increased as blood pressure rose.

Lead author Ms. Jessica Gong stated that while more research is needed to confirm these findings, they may indicate better risk management strategies.

“Our results suggest a more tailored approach to treating high blood pressure could be more effective at preventing future cases of dementia,” Ms. Gong added.

Dementia is quickly becoming a worldwide epidemic, impacting an estimated 50 million individuals. By 2050, this is expected to increase, owing to aging populations. Women are more likely than men to develop dementia and die as a result of it.

In the absence of significant treatment advances, the attention has shifted to lower the chance of getting the disease, with cardiovascular risk factors being more well recognized as contributing to various kinds of dementia.

The UK Biobank, a large-scale biomedical database that recruited 502,489 Britons aged 40-69 years (free of dementia at study beginning) between 2006 and 2010, was utilized by George Institute researchers to look at sex differences in main cardiovascular risk factors for dementia.

They found that current smoking, diabetes, excessive body fat, having had a prior stroke, and low socioeconomic position were all linked to a higher risk of dementia in both men and women to the same extent.

When it came to blood pressure, however, the men and women had varied relationships with dementia risk. The authors provided some probable explanations for this, although the cause for this was not clear.

Ms. Gong pointed out that “biological differences between women and men may account for the sex differences we saw in the relationship between blood pressure and the risk of dementia. But there may also be differences in medical treatment for hypertension. For example, women are less likely to take medication as prescribed by their healthcare provider than men and maybe taking more medications and experiencing more side effects.”

While there are no effective treatments for dementia, the goal is to lessen the disease’s impact by supporting healthier lives, with blood pressure management being the strongest evidence.

Professor Mark Woodward, study co-author said that “our study suggests that a more individualized approach to treating blood pressure in men compared to women may result in even greater protection against the development of dementia. It also shows the importance of ensuring sufficient numbers of women and men are recruited into studies and that the data for women and men should be analyzed separately.”

Related: New WHO study reveals the deadly impact of long working hours


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