INTRODUCTION: Cognitive decline and dementia recognize multiple risk factors and pathophysiological mechanisms, often involved simultaneously with complex interactions. Several studies have shown that both arterial hypertension and hypotension are associated with a greater risk of cognitive decline and dementia, but clinical evidence on this point is conflicting. Our aim was to conduct an umbrella review on cognitive function, dementia, and blood pressure, with particular attention to epidemiological, prognostic and therapeutic aspects.
EVIDENCE ACQUISITION: We conducted a dedicated literature search on PubMed for systematic reviews and meta-analyses that focused on arterial pressure, hypertension, hypotension and similar conditions, and cognitive function, cognitive decline and dementia. The internal validity of systematic reviews and meta-analyses was formally analysed using the OQAQ tool. The umbrella review was planned in accordance with current international recommendations and was described as specified by the PRISMA guidelines.
EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS: 17 systematic reviews (including 13 meta-analyses) were included, for a total of 675 clinical studies and over 1 million patients. Hypertension results to be associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer's dementia, greater risk of vascular dementia and greater risk of cognitive decline. Orthostatic hypotension seems to be associated with greater risk of Alzheimer's dementia, vascular dementia and dementia of Parkinson's disease. Therapy with acetylcholinesterase inhibitors produces lower risk of cardiovascular events, greater risk of hypertension and greater risk of bradycardia, while the anti-hypertensive therapy leads to a lower risk of dementia of all types and lower risk of cognitive decline.
CONCLUSIONS: To date, the evidence on the relationship between blood pressure, cognitive decline and dementia provides somewhat heterogeneous data. Further studies are clearly needed, with explicit inclusion criteria as objective as possible, adequate follow-up and precise characterization of implemented cardiovascular and cognitive treatments.