Local doctor’s research paints positive future for dementia prevention

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With a lack of success in treating dementia, a local doctor said the future for the prevention of dementia is looking clearer thanks to new research findings. 

Dr. Valerie Wilson, a doctor at the Mountain Home Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the director of the Geriatrics and Memory Loss Clinic, worked with a research team that performed a study – and that study has drawn international attention.

Read the study HERE. 
 

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, examined a possible link between blood pressure and “cognitive outcomes,” or the development of symptoms that can lead to dementia. 

“The more aggressive blood pressure control arm of the study was associated with better cognitive outcomes over time in patients,” Wilson said. “It’s really interesting because the field of dementia, unfortunately, has not been successful in treatments. ” 

By the numbers: 

  • 5.5 million Americans are living with dementia. 
  • Wilson said that number is expected to triple in the next 30 years as the population ages.
  • It’s been 10 years since a new Alzheimer’s treatment drug has been introduced to the market.

Focus on dementia has shifted from treatment to preventative measures, Wilson said, after research into treatment has returned “disappointing” results over the last few decades. Wilson said the results of the recent study is the first time a study has shown that an intervention reduces the risk of cognitive impairment over time. 

Researchers conducted the study with more than 9,000 participants on more than 100 different sites across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, with an average patient age of 67 and a quarter of the patients older than 75. 

The study didn’t account for patients with diabetes or those with a history of a stroke, Wilson added, two big sections of the population that would still require further research. 

“There’s still a lot of muddy water,” she said. “We don’t know what the ideal goals are for cognitive health as far as blood pressure.

“It’s interesting because what seems to be good for the heart, for example, low blood pressure targets also appears to be helpful for the mind.”

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