A study, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (December 15, 2004), suggested that controlling blood pressure and cholesterol may help stop or slow the progression of mixed dementia. The disorder is a combination of vascular dementia, caused in part by problems with blood flow to the brain, and Alzheimer's disease.
The study was conducted by the University of Michigan Health System, the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, and the Group Health Cooperative for Health Studies in Seattle, Wash. The researchers examined previous research about mixed dementia. "Having risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol does damage to small blood vessels in the brain and can cause death of brain cells over time," said study author Kenneth Langa, MD, an investigator at the VAAnn Arbor Healthcare System.
While more research is warranted, the researchers concluded that attempts to control high blood pressure and cholesterol may be better than memory drugs in protecting brain function in individuals with mixed dementia.