Many people know treating high blood pressure reduces the odds of a heart attack, stroke or heart failure. Now, a new study suggests another added benefit: a lower risk of lesions in the brain that increase the chances of dementia, stroke and falls in older adults.
The study, published this week in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, included 199 women and men age 75 and older. They all had systolic blood pressure (the top number) of 150 or higher and brain MRIs showing lesions known as white matter hyperintensity lesions that are common in older adults.
Half of the participants were given medication to lower their systolic blood pressure to 145. The other half were given medication to decrease it to 130 or lower. After three years, MRIs showed fewer new lesions had developed in the white matter of participants whose systolic blood pressure was 130 or lower than in those whose blood pressure target was 145.