Hypertension, which is a known risk factor for dementia in middle-aged patients and is associated with cognitive impairment, stroke and brain atrophy, is more common in men than in women, senior author Rachel A. Whitmer, PhD, and colleagues wrote in the new study. Still, risk of target organ damage and development of cardiovascular disease linked to high blood pressure is consistently higher in women, and few studies have explored the relationship between dementia risk and hypertension between the sexes at different life stages.
Whitmer and her team pulled data from 5,646 members of the Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC) integrated healthcare system and analyzed those patients’ hypertensive status and how it related to their risk of developing dementia. Patients received routine checkups between the 1960s and 1980s, allowing the researchers to pinpoint medical data from certain phases in the individuals’ lives. Patients were an average of 33 years old in the “early-adulthood” stage and 44 years old in the “mid-adulthood” phase of the study.