Fluctuations in blood pressure increase the risk of dementia

Fluctuations in blood pressure increase the risk of dementia

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Dementia risk increased due to fluctuations in blood pressure

Basically, blood pressure can vary significantly over the course of life. A current study has now made it clear that fluctuations in blood pressure over the years have a significant impact on the risk of dementia.

A significant increase in the risk of dementia was observed both with a sharp rise and a sharp drop in blood pressure, reports the Dutch research team of its study results. If the discovered connection is a causal link, regulating blood pressure or avoiding major fluctuations in blood pressure could also reduce the risk of dementia, explains the research team. The new study results were published in the specialist magazine "PLOS Medicine".

More than 5,000 study participants

In a prospective cohort study in the Netherlands that has been running since 1989, 5,273 participants (58.1 percent women, average age 67.6 years) are regularly examined and their medical values ​​recorded. This also included blood pressure measurements with an average interval of just over four years. The researchers determined the fluctuations in blood pressure by comparing the absolute measurement results of systolic blood pressure with the mean value over the years.

Increased risk of dementia with fluctuating blood pressure

By 2016, a total of 1,059 cases of dementia had occurred among the participants. The comparison with the determined fluctuations in blood pressure showed that the extent of the blood pressure fluctuations also increases the risk of dementia - regardless of whether the blood pressure deviates upwards or downwards from the mean values.

"The results of this study show that large fluctuations in blood pressure over a period of years are associated with an increased long-term risk of dementia," reports the research team. The relationship between blood pressure fluctuations and dementia appears to be most pronounced if these fluctuations occurred long before the diagnosis. An increased long-term risk of dementia was observed with both a sharp rise and a drop in blood pressure, the researchers continued.

New approaches to prevention

If the observed relationship is causal, it might be possible to prevent dementia by avoiding major fluctuations in blood pressure, the researchers conclude. The particularly strong connection between the risk of dementia and fluctuations in blood pressure that occur long before the illness indicates a greater benefit from interventions carried out earlier in life. (fp)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters


  • Yuan Ma, Frank J. Wolters, Lori B. Chibnik, Silvan Licher, M. Arfan Ikram, Albert Hofman, M. Kamran Ikram: Variation in blood pressure and long-term risk of dementia: A population-based cohort study; in: PLOS Medicine (published November 12, 2019),

Video: The Link Between Cardiovascular Health and Alzheimers Disease (January 2023).