Lowering BP Helps Mental Problems

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According to a recent study, lowering blood pressure (BP) can slow or even stop the progression of brain abnormalities that can increase the risk of dementia and stroke. The study, reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, was the first to use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess the impact of reducing BP on the development of "white matter hyperintensities" (WMHs)—abnormalities of white matter deep in the brain that are visible as bright areas on an MRI.

The study included 192 patients, average age 60 years, who had had a stroke or mini-stroke within the previous 5 years and had no problems taking an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor. Each patient received a brain MRI at the start of the study and again after about 36 months. When the second MRIs were taken, the group that received the BP medication showed a 43% reduction in risk of new WMHs, compared with the placebo group.