Tags: dementia | light-headedness | blood flow | brain

Light-Headedness on Standing Signals Dementia Risk

Light-Headedness on Standing Signals Dementia Risk

By    |   Monday, 17 October 2016 10:11 AM

Those who experience a sudden drop in blood pressure upon standing are at increased risk of developing dementia, say researchers.

The condition — known as orthostatic hypotension — increases the risk of dementia, including Alzheimer's, by 15 percent, according to a 24-year study of more than 6,000 people. The results were published in the journal PLOS Medicine.

Orthostatic hypotension, which can trigger head rushes or dizzy spells upon standing, is known to cause reduced blood flow to the brain. Previous studies have shown that reduced blood flow in the brain, in the elderly, can contribute over time to brain dysfunction, but previous research hadn't specifically examined any correlation between orthostatic hypotension and dementia.

Researchers, led by Arfan Ikram and Frank Wolters from Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, set out to see if there was indeed any connection and they evaluated 6,204 men and women without dementia or history of stroke in the Dutch population-based Rotterdam Study, with a mean age of 68.5.

They identified those in the group with orthostatic hypotension —a drop of more than 20mmHg in their systolic blood pressure or 10 mmHg in their diastolic pressure within three minutes of standing from a resting position. Then, they followed the participants until 2014, to determine any relationship with dementia.

After a follow-up time of about 15 years, 1,176 (19 percent) of the participants in the study developed dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, and Parkinson's dementia.

Out of the whole group, 1,152 participants (18.6 percent) met the definition of orthostatic hypotension, and were associated with a 15 percent increase in all dementia types. The association was even more pronounced for those who didn't have an increase in heart rate along with the momentary drop in blood pressure, with a 39 percent increase in long-term dementia risk.

Variability in systolic blood pressure upon standing, even without meeting the formal criteria for orthostatic hypotension, was associated with an 8 percent increased risk of dementia.

The study was limited to a mostly Caucasian population.

Although the association does not necessarily mean a direct causal role, the authors say that "brief episodes of hypoperfusion, elicited by sudden blood pressure drops, may lead to hypoxia [lack of oxygen] with detrimental effects on brain tissue."

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Those who experience a sudden drop in blood pressure upon standing are at increased risk of developing dementia, say researchers.
dementia, light-headedness, blood flow, brain
Monday, 17 October 2016 10:11 AM
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