A new study suggests that higher blood pressure at night than in the daytime may be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease in older men.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions.
The study, by researchers at Uppsala University, Sweden, was published in the journal Hypertension.
Commenting on the study, a Consultant Cardiologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Dr. Ramon Moronkola, said the finding might not be surprising, as an abnormal day time/night time blood pressure relationship has been shown to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
He said there is a need for the study to be replicated in older women, too.
In the study, the researchers examined whether reduced and dipping of systolic BP is associated with the prospective risk of being diagnosed with any dementia in Swedish older men.
According to the researchers, blood pressure varies over 24 hours, with the lowest values reached at night.
Doctors call this nocturnal blood pressure fall ‘dipping’. However, in some people, this BP pattern is reversed: their nocturnal BP is higher than in the daytime. This blood pressure profile is known as ‘reverse dipping.’
Twenty-four-hour ambulatory BP monitoring was used to estimate the nocturnal systolic BP dipping status of men at mean age 71 on antihypertensive medication; and 77.6 (41 percent) on antihypertensive medication.
Dementia incidence during the observational period up to 24 years was determined by reviewing participants’ medical history and independently confirmed by at least two experienced geriatricians.
The researchers, led by Xian Tan, found that reverse systolic BP dipping was associated with a higher risk of being diagnosed with any dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but not vascular dementia.
“In contrast, reduced dipping of nocturnal systolic BP was not associated with a higher risk of being diagnosed with dementia.
“Our findings suggest that reverse systolic BP dipping may represent an independent risk factor for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in older men.
“Future studies should decipher whether therapies lowering nocturnal systolic BP below daytime levels, such as bedtime dosing of antihypertensive medication, can meaningfully curb the development of dementia,” they said.
Speaking further with PUNCH HealthWise, Moronkola said, “Naturally, the blood pressure is expected to reduce as we sleep at night; which means that the blood pressure is expected to dip (reduce) at night.
“Based on this, some individuals are variously referred to as non-dippers (the night time BP doesn’t reduce as expected), or reverse dippers (the night time BP is higher than daytime BP).
“These patterns have been shown to be risk factors to cardiovascular disease. These findings imply that your doctor may initiate treatment at a level of BP that is not as high as others because you are a non-dipper or a reverse dipper.
“As this study was carried out among men, it is necessary that it is repeated in the female group,” he said.
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