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The Link Between High Blood Pressure and Dementia

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What is Vascular Dementia?

Dementia UK tells us that “Vascular dementia is caused by problems in the blood supply to the brain due to damaged or diseased blood vessels, a stroke, or ‘mini strokes’ called transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs). This deprives the brain cells of the oxygen and nutrients they need to function effectively, which may cause problems with concentration, thinking and carrying out everyday activities.” The person may eventually be diagnosed with vascular dementia if the symptoms get progressively worse.
As with most other types of dementia, vascular dementia is most common in people aged over 65. The risk of developing vascular dementia doesn’t just increase with age though, it can also be a higher risk in people who:

  • Have high blood pressure
  • Smoke
  • Consume excessive alcohol
  • Are obese
  • Have depression
  • Experience social isolation
  • Have received a traumatic brain injury
  • Breath second-hand tobacco smoke or live in an area of high air pollution
  • Are physically inactive
  • Have a hearing impairment

High blood pressure is one of the significant risk factors to developing vascular dementia, and according to the Alzheimer’s Society, “Long-term research studies have demonstrated that high blood pressure in mid-life is a key factor that can increase your risk of developing dementia in later life, particularly vascular dementia.”

How Does High Blood Pressure Affect the Brain Function?

High blood pressure affects brain function in several ways. Having high blood pressure puts a lot of strain on the arteries, and this thickens, narrows, and stiffens their walls over time. If this process happens in the brain, then this will prevent oxygen and essential nutrients reaching brain cells and lead to them becoming damaged. Blocked arteries in the brain due to high blood pressure can also lead to an increased risk of stroke, as can a burst blood vessel, both of which cause brain cells to die. This then leads to what is known as post-stroke or stroke-related vascular dementia. Consuming too much fat, which is then carried in the blood, can also contribute over time. Once these blood vessels are damaged and the brain cells are adversely affected, crucial information cannot be carried, relayed, or recalled and this can lead to cognitive decline and other symptoms of dementia.

How to Reduce Blood Pressure?

Monitoring blood pressure regularly is something that we can all get in the habit of doing. Requesting a check-up at the local surgery is one way, or if you prefer, home blood pressure monitors are available, some of which are relatively inexpensive. Keeping an eye on blood pressure can give us an early indicator that something needs investigating further and present an opportunity for swift diagnosis. If blood pressure is elevated, the GP or practice nurse will be able to recommend lifestyle changes or medication that may reduce blood pressure, or alternative therapies that could have a beneficial effect. If increases are due to anxiety for instance, meditation or relaxation techniques could be recommended, as could hypnosis or talking therapies. Lifestyle can therefore be a factor in increased blood pressure, and consequently developing vascular dementia, and things within our control, such as trying to maintain a healthy weight, quitting smoking, getting some exercise, and not drinking too much alcohol, could be beneficial steps to take.

Live-in care from Helping Hands means there will be someone living in your home around the clock who will be able to support you with every aspect of your daily routine. They’ll be able to help you manage your diet, take gentle exercise, and maintain your lifestyle so your risk of developing vascular dementia is reduced wherever possible.

How Helping Hands can Help with Dementia Care

Dementia care from Helping Hands is focussed on giving you the support you need to carry on living as independently as possible at home. Our condition-led support is designed entirely around you and how you like to live your daily life, meaning that you aren’t defined by your dementia. Dementia is an individualised condition which means there should never be a ‘one size fits all’ approach, and with Helping Hands you’ll always be treated as the individual that you are.

We understand dementia – we’ve been supporting people living with various types of dementia since we were established in 1989, which is why we’re proud to be considered one of the UK’s foremost specialist dementia home care companies.

Remaining in the comfort of your beloved home will benefit you both physically and emotionally while you progress along your dementia journey, but you and your loved ones need to be confident that the care you receive is fully regulated and delivered by industry experts. That’s what you get with Helping Hands though – visiting and live-in care services that are fully regulated by the Care Quality Commission and Care Inspectorate Wales, plus the knowledge that you’ll receive localised care supported by a UK-wide company.

We specialise in a holistic approach to dementia care that focusses on yours and your family’s emotional needs, as well as ensuring you have a person-centred care package designed especially for you. Our carers and managers undertake extensive dementia training so that they’ll be equipped with all the knowledge they need to fully care for you at home, and because we’ve got an extensive branch network numbering 150 across England and Wales, you’ll receive support local to you backed up with a national guarantee. We don’t have franchises at Helping Hands – all of our branches are fully owned and managed by us, leading to a consistency of dementia care that other home care companies just can’t equal. There’s no need to feel you will have to leave the home you love and move to residential care after a dementia diagnosis, talk to your local branch team, or our friendly customer care team seven days a week and we’ll advise you on what your options are and how much it’s likely to cost. That will ensure you and your loved ones can plan the future you want before your dementia progresses too far, all the while knowing that you’ll always receive the support you hoped for. Our care services can begin on an infrequent basis, to give loved ones a break or to help you make the most of life at home, while always remaining flexible and adaptable to your changing care and support needs.