Vigourous physical activity could lower risk of dementia among people with high BP: Study

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New Delhi: Physical activity could help older people with high blood pressure lower their risk of dementia, a new research has found.

Previous studies have found that people with high blood pressure, or hypertension, are at an increased risk of cognitive impairment, including dementia, in which an individual’s memory and thinking abilities are affected, severely impacting their daily lives.

In this study, researchers at Wake Forest University, US, examined how physical activity impacted the risk of mild cognitive impairment (preceding stage of dementia) in older people with hypertension.

The team found that the participants engaging in vigorous physical activity at least once a week had lower rates of mild cognitive impairment and dementia.

The researchers noted that nearly 60 per cent of the participants, all aged 50 years and above, reported having performed activities that made them sweat, along with increasing heart rate and breathing at least once a week.

“It is welcome news that a higher number of older adults are engaging in physical exercise. This also suggests that older adults who recognise the importance of exercise may be more inclined to exercise at higher intensity,” said Richard Kazibwe, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the School of Medicine, Wake Forest University.

However, the researchers found the protective impact of vigorous exercise was more pronounced for those younger than 75 years of age.

“While this study provides evidence that vigorous exercise may preserve cognitive function in high-risk patients with hypertension, more research is needed to include device-based physical activity measurements and more diverse participant populations,” said Kazibwe, lead author of the study published in Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

The latest is part of the larger ‘Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial’ (SPRINT) study that showed that intensive control of blood pressure to a target of less than 120 mm Hg reduced the risks of cardiovascular disease and death.

It included more than 9,300 participants with hypertension ages 50 and older. It was randomly assigned to intensive or standard blood pressure treatment (limiting systolic blood pressure to less than 140 mm Hg). The findings were published in 2015.

In 2019, results of the ‘Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial Memory and Cognition in Decreased Hypertension’ (SPRINT MIND) study showed that intensively treating blood pressure in older people significantly reduced the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment.

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