A new research has suggested that older women with hypertension are at increased risk for developing brain lesions that cause dementia later in life.
The findings are based on data from the Women's Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS).
The research was carried out as part of the Women' Health Initiative (WHI), the largest multi-site longitudinal study looking at health risks among postmenopausal women.
WHIMS, which involves a subgroup of the women enrolled in WHI, looks at the influence of hormone therapy on thinking and memory. All the women in WHIMS were 65 or older.
Upon enrolling in the trial and annually during their participation in it, the women had their blood pressure measured and underwent tests to measure their cognitive ability.
ome of the WHIMS participants - 1,403 of them - also underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at 14 U.S. academic centers in 2005 and 2006.
All of these women were free of dementia when they enrolled. Examination of the data on these 1,403 women was led by Lewis H. Kuller, of the University of Pittsburgh, in collaboration with researchers at other WHI centers.
The MRI studies revealed that women who, on entry to the WHIMS trial, had elevated blood pressure had significantly higher amounts of white matter lesions (WMLs) when they underwent MRIs eight years later.
Study co-author Dr. Wassertheil-Smoller said: "Based on our findings, we would encourage women to maintain their blood pressure at normal levels, which may reduce their risk of dementia."
The findings were published in the December 2009 online issue of the Journal of Clinical Hypertension.