Hypertension appeared to predict the progression of dementia among older adults with certain cognitive deficits, including the ability to organize thoughts and make decisions, but not others, such as those with memory dysfunction.
"We know from a large number of papers now that the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease is memory impairment, whereas vascular cognitive impairment due to multiple strokes are typically associated wtih hypertension," study researcher Vladimir Hachinski, MD, of the department of clinical neurological sciences at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, told Cardiology Today.
However, up till now, the literature has been confusing about the role of late-life hypertension in progression to dementia, with some studies' results supporting the link and others not supporting it.
"Because hypertension is a major risk factor for vascular brain diseases and vascular cognitive impairment, we postulated that the cognitive domain of dysfunction may be the crucial factor that determines the association between hypertension and cognitive deterioration," Hachinski and colleagues wrote.
They analyzed data from 990 adults (mean age, 83.06 years) who had experienced cognitive impairment but not dementia, and who had participated in the Canadian Study of Health and Aging 1991; 1995 to 1996; and 2001 to 2002).