Hypertension: higher risk of dementia in women

Presse Santé

There is currently no effective treatment for dementia. It is therefore crucial to identify the most effective means of preventing this disease. A new study found that smoking, diabetes, high body fat, stroke, and low socioeconomic status were as strong risk factors for dementia in men as in women.

However, hypertension, or high blood pressure, was associated with a higher risk of dementia in women than in men. This was after the researchers took into account other risk factors. The results suggest that a more personalized approach to the treatment of high blood pressure is warranted. Dementia involves progressive loss of memory, cognitive abilities and the ability to perform daily tasks.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 50 million people worldwide suffer from dementia. Almost 10 million new cases appear each year.
Although there is currently no cure or treatment to slow the progression of the disease, researchers have identified several risk factors.
Thus, certain lifestyle changes and drug treatment can reduce these risks and help prevent the disease in the first place.

Cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure, have proven to be particularly important risk factors for dementia. Several studies have found that if all other things are the same, hypertension exposes women to a higher risk of dementia than men.

Factors that increase the risk of dementia

A new study of more than half a million people adds to the evidence that middle-aged high blood pressure puts women at a higher relative risk of dementia, even when controlling other risks. The researchers found that smoking, diabetes, high body fat and low socioeconomic status had the same impact on the risk of dementia in men and women. The study, conducted by researchers at the George Institute for Global Health at the University of New South Wales in Newtown, Australia, is published in the journal BMC Medicine.

This study suggests that a more individualized approach to treating blood pressure in men compared to women may lead to even greater protection against the development of dementia.

Half a million volunteers

The researchers followed 502,226 people at Biobank UK, a biomedical database that recruited volunteers from 2006 to 2010. At the time of recruitment, none of the participants had dementia. Their average age was 56.5 years. Over the next 12 years, 4,068 of them developed dementia.

Smoking, diabetes, high body fat, previous strokes and low socioeconomic status at baseline were associated with a similar increase in dementia risk in women and men. Although the overall incidence of dementia was higher in men than in women, high blood pressure was associated with a higher relative risk in women after controlling for all other risk factors.

Specifically, as men’s systolic blood pressure increased from low to high, their risk of dementia decreased and then increased again along the U-shaped curve. In contrast, the risk of dementia was higher in women than in men. The risk of dementia remained stable in women with low systolic blood pressure and then steadily increased with increasing blood pressure. This type of steady or linear increase in risk is sometimes known as the dose-response relationship.

This difference in gender-related risk associated with increased blood pressure was evident in both vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Differences in treatment between men and women

The researchers believe that their findings may reflect differences in the medical treatment of high blood pressure between men and women. Previous research has suggested that, overall, women take more different medications and are less likely to follow recommended use than men.

Although it is likely that the observed gender differences in blood pressure in relation to the risk of dementia may be related to biological differences between women and men, differences in medical treatment may also offer some explanation. This lack of grip can be caused by women experiencing more unpleasant side effects.

In addition, the association between systolic blood pressure and dementia in women may be due to the fact that hypertension is less manageable in women than in men, given that, on average, lower adherence to treatment is exacerbated by more polypharmacy. [prise de plusieurs médicaments] and other treatment-related side effects.


Dementia. WHO

Gender differences in the association between major middle-aged cardiovascular risk factors and dementia: a cohort study using data from the UK Biobank

* Presse Santé strives to impart health knowledge in a language accessible to all. IN NO EVENT can the information provided replace the advice of a healthcare professional.

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