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Australian research links dementia and hypertension

SYDNEY -- Relieving high blood pressure could halve the number of Alzheimer's patients, an Australian researcher said recently. High blood pressure or hypertension increases the risk of heart attacks but Sydney's Michael Valenzuela said sufferers also had a higher risk of developing dementia later in life.

"I think there is a fundamental link between Alzheimer's and cardio-vascular disease," the University of New South Wales academic said. "High blood pressure reduces blood flow to the memory part of the brain. Any kind of reduction of blood flow is going to be negative for brain cells. They are not going to have enough nutrients or ability to get rid of waste products." He said reduced blood flow could cause breakages in the tiny blood vessels in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory, leading to "micro-bleeding that may kick off the Alzheimer's process."

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