Blood pressure does not remain constant. It changes throughout the day depending upon stress, physical activity and many other factors. But could highly variable blood pressure signal a problem?

What Are the Consequences of Highly Variable Blood Pressure?

A new study from Japan has reported that people whose blood pressure varies the most from day to day may be at greater risk for dementia as they age. The researchers used a month’s worth of home blood pressure measurements among more than 1600 older adults.

People with rollercoaster blood pressure were twice as likely to be diagnosed with dementia over the next five years. Unfortunately, researchers don’t yet know whether controlling fluctuations in blood pressure would protect the brain.

Oishi et al, Circulation, Aug. 7, 2017 

Connecting Blood Pressure and Dementia Risk:

While this is the first study we have seen to identify highly variable blood pressure as a risk factor for cognitive decline, several previous studies have revealed links between blood pressure and dementia. Extremely low blood pressure in elderly individuals seems to be linked to problems. Among very old people, high blood pressure may actually be somewhat protective. Once people reach a certain age, probably beyond 75, aggressive blood pressure control may be counterproductive.

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