Blood pressure drugs show no effect on memory and thinking in trial

27 February 2019

Neurology: Effects of blood pressure and lipid lowering on cognition: Results from the HOPE-3 study

An international team of researchers has reported that a clinical trial of blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering medication in older people has shown no effect on memory and thinking over a six-year period. The results are published today (Wednesday 27 February) in the scientific publication, Neurology.

Dr James Connell, Research Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“There is now mounting evidence that high blood pressure is a risk factor for developing dementia, but it’s less clear whether lowering blood pressure or cholesterol in healthy older adults could hold cognitive benefits. This study found that blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering drugs only impacted memory and thinking in a subset of those with the highest blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

“People with high blood pressure should continue to take their prescribed medication, as keeping blood pressure within a healthy range is vital for many aspects of our health. There remains a clear but complex interaction between blood pressure and dementia risk, and research to unravel this link could provide important insights into how to prevent memory and thinking decline in future.

“There is strong evidence that what’s good for the heart is also good for the brain and maintaining good vascular health is one of the key things people can do to reduce their risk of dementia. As well as maintaining a healthy blood pressure, the best current evidence suggests that not smoking, only drinking within the recommended guidelines, staying mentally and physically active, eating a balanced diet and keeping cholesterol levels in check can all help to keep our brains healthy as we age.”