Rapid BP drop in middle age linked to dementia later

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Middle-aged people who experience rapid drop in blood pressure often causing dizziness may be at an increased risk of developing cognitive decline and dementia 20 years later, a study said.

The findings suggest that these temporary episodes — known as orthostatic hypotension — may cause lasting damage, possibly because they reduce needed blood flow to the brain.

Orthostatic hypotension is defined as a drop of 20 mmHg or more in systolic blood pressure — the top number which refers to the amount of pressure in arteries during contraction of the heart muscle — or 10 mmHg or more in diastolic blood pressure — the bottom number which refers to blood pressure when the heart muscle is between beats.

“We found that those people who suffered from orthostatic hypotension in middle age were 40 per cent more likely to develope dementia than those who did not,” said lead author Andreea Rawlings, post-doctoral student at the Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, US.

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