Controlling blood pressure just might be the best protection yet known against dementia.
In a flurry of new research, scientists scanned people's brains to show hypertension fuels a kind of scarring linked to later development of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. Those scars can start building up in middle age, decades before memory problems will appear.
Scientists have long noticed that some of the same triggers for heart disease -- high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes -- seem to increase the risk of dementia, too.
But for years, they thought that link was with "vascular dementia," memory problems usually linked to small strokes. Now they have learned that factors like hypertension also seem to spur Alzheimer's disease-like processes.