HealthDay News — Developing hypertension in very old age may provide some protection from dementia, according to a study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

Maria Corrada, ScD, a professor of neurology and epidemiology at the University of California, Irvine, and colleagues followed 559 people aged 90 and older for nearly 3 years. The participants were free from dementia at the start of the study. The researchers checked blood pressure history and assessed the participants for dementia every six months during the course of the study. During follow-up, 40 percent developed dementia.

The researchers found that those who developed hypertension after age 80 were 42 percent less likely to develop dementia in their 90s compared to those with normal blood pressure. Those whose hypertension started after age 90 were 63 percent less likely to develop dementia versus those without hypertension. The link remained even if patients were taking medications to treat hypertension.

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“Developing hypertension at older ages may protect against dementia,” the authors write. “Understanding the mechanisms for this lower risk is important for determining ways to prevent dementia in the very elderly.”

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María M. Corrada M, Hayden KM, Paganini-Hill AP, Bullain SS, et al. Age of onset of hypertension and risk of dementia in the oldest-old: The 90+ Study. Alzheimer’s & Dementia. 2016; doi: