Washington D.C. [USA], Mar. 11 : For all middle-aged people who experience temporary blood pressure drops - episodes of dizziness or light-headedness when standing up - may be at increased risk of developing cognitive decline and dementia 20 years later, warns a new study.
The findings suggested that these temporary episodes - known as orthostatic hypotension - might cause lasting damage, possibly because they reduce needed blood flow to the brain.
The results indicated people with orthostatic hypotension at the first visit were 40 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who did not have it and even had 15 percent more cognitive decline.
The research was presented at the American Heart Association's EPI|LIFESTYLE 2017 Scientific Sessions in Portland, Ore.
"Even though these episodes are fleeting, they may have impacts that are long lasting," said study leader Andreea Rawlings from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg's school of public health in Baltimore, US.
"We found that those people who suffered from orthostatic hypotension in middle age were 40 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who did not. It's a significant finding and we need to better understand just what is happening," Rawlings added.
The researchers analysed data 15,792 residents in four communities in the United States, aged 45 and 64 when the study began in 1987.
They focused on the 11,503 participants at visit one who had no history of coronary heart disease or stroke.
After 20 minutes lying down, the researchers took the participants' blood pressure upon standing.
"Identifying risk factors for cognitive decline and dementia is important for understanding disease progression, and being able to identify those most at risk gives us possible strategies for prevention and intervention," Rawlings pointed.