Study: Late-Life High Blood Pressure Linked to Cognitive Impairment

February 12, 2019

High blood pressure in late life is associated with cognitive impairment, according to a study published in the February issue of JAMDA. This finding reaffirms the benefit of focusing on preventing and managing high blood pressure in older adults, the authors said.

According to “Association Between Late-Life Blood Pressure and the Incidence of Cognitive Impairment: A Community-Based Prospective Cohort Study,” study participants with high blood pressure (12,281 older adults in China with a median age of 81) had a significantly higher risk of cognitive impairment ranging from mild to severe.

While the connection between these two conditions is not fully understood, the authors suggested a few possible links. For instance, they said, high blood pressure-related functional and structural changes could adversely affect brain circulation, contributing to cognitive dysfunction; also, high blood pressure may cause white matter lesions and cortical thickness reduction, which are closely connected to cognitive decline.

This is the largest study to date investigating an association between blood pressure and cognitive impairment in Asian older adults. Its results are consistent with several similar studies involving other populations, including older Caucasian Americans.

The authors stressed the importance of identifying and addressing causes of cognitive impairment, as there are currently 46 million people globally living with dementia, and this number is expected to grow to 75 million by 2030. “In the absence of effective treatment for dementia, identifying modifiable risk factors, then reducing the risk, is currently the fundamental strategy against this disease,” the authors said.

This study was conducted by researchers at the Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Southern Medical University. Guangzhou, China; National Institute of Environmental Health and Division of Non-Communicable Disease Control and Community Health, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Beijing, China; Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development and the Geriatric Division of School of Medicine and Duke Molecular Physiology Institute and Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, Duke University, Durham, NC; and Center for Study of Healthy Aging and Development Studies, Peking University, Beijing, China.

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JAMDA is the official journal of AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. JAMDA publishes peer-reviewed articles including original studies, reviews, clinical experience articles, case reports, and more, on all topics more important to post-acute and long-term care medicine. Visit for more information.

About the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine
AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine is the only medical specialty society representing the community of over 50,000 medical directors, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other practitioners working in the various post-acute and long-term care (PA/LTC) settings. Dedicated to defining and improving quality, we advance our mission through timely professional development, evidence-based clinical guidance, and tireless advocacy on behalf of members, patients, families, and staff. Visit for more information.