Maintaining Normal Blood Pressure Long Term May Lower Dementia Risk

How well are you maintaining a healthy level of blood pressure? The initial findings of new research show that the longer a person controls their blood pressure, the lower their dementia risk may be.

High blood pressure (HBP) or hypertension is considered a “silent killer” because it usually has no obvious symptoms. Yet this condition can make your heart and blood vessels work harder and less efficiently, resulting in interior artery damage over time. While there isn’t a cure if you already have hypertension, don’t lose hope. You can still take steps to reduce your risk of cognitive decline, stroke, heart disease and kidney disease.


Tips for Managing Blood Pressure
Know Your Numbers

Monitor your blood pressure at home using an HBP monitor to help your physician determine whether your treatments are working. One option is a cuff-style bicep monitor that has been properly validated and calibrated. Follow these steps for accurate blood pressure measurement:

  1. Don’t exercise, smoke or consume caffeine/alcohol within 30 minutes of measurement.
  2. Sit and relax on a chair and rest for at least 5 minutes. Rest your left arm comfortably on a flat surface. Keep your back straight and your feet flat on the floor.
  3. Take and record at least two readings 1 minute apart before taking your medications in the morning, and before dinner in the evening.
  4. Place the cuff’s bottom above the elbow’s bend directly on skin.
Here’s a reference of what blood pressure monitor readings mean: 
 Blood Pressure CategorySystolic mm Hg (upper number)  Diastolic mm Hg (lower number) 
 Normal  Less than 120 and Less than 80
 Elevated 120-129 and Less than 80
 Hypertension Stage 1 130-139 or 80-89
 Hypertension Stage 2 140 or higher or 90 or higher
 Hypertensive Crisis (consult your physician immediately) Higher than 180 and/or Higher than 120

Heart-Healthy Diet

Adopt the habit of reading food labels so you can choose which foods to consume. Limit consumption of:
  • Trans and saturated fats
  • Sodium/salt
  • Red meat
  • Sweets or sweetened beverages
Look for grocery products with the Heart-Check mark, which means they meet the American Heart Association criteria for sodium, trans fat and saturated fat for a single food serving for healthy people over the age of 2. Aim to consume a diet rich in:
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Low-fat dairies
  • Skinless poultry and fish
  • Legumes and nuts
  • Non-tropical vegetable oils


Follow these lifestyle habits to help manage your hypertension:
  • Quit smoking or don’t smoke.
  • Get regular physical activity.
  • Take your medications properly.
  • Manage stress.


Work with your doctor to fine-tune your treatment for high blood pressure. Show them your log of blood pressure readings. Tell your doctor about your diet or lifestyle challenges that keep you from maintaining normal blood pressure, so they may recommend programs or other suggestions to help you.

American Heart Association

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