African Americans are at a greater risk of developing hypertension and dementia. But new findings published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine suggest that lowering blood pressure may be the key to preventing this progressive cognitive deterioration in older African Americans, reports Regenstrief Institute.

For the study, during a 24-year period, researchers from the Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis evaluated the effects of antihypertensive meds, such as beta blockers, ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blocks, on the risk for dementia in 1,262 African-American men and women age 65 and older with high blood pressure. (All participants were cognitively normal at the study’s outset.)

Scientists noted a significant reduction in the risk for dementia among those who were prescribed any class of medication used to treat hypertension. In addition, findings emphasized that simply reducing a person’s blood pressure—regardless of which drugs in particular they were taking—lowered dementia risk.

“We can now add prevention of dementia to the list of benefits of good blood pressure control at all ages,” said study coauthor Michael D. Murray, PharmD, MPH, of the Regenstrief Institute’s Center for Health Services Research and Purdue University College of Pharmacy. “Preventing dementia is critical; once you start the decline from cognitive impairment to mild and eventually severe dementia, there is no known cure.”

Click here to learn how barbershops could one day help reduce high blood pressure in Black men.