Blood Pressure Control and Decreased Risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

Recently published NIA research revealed an association between blood pressure control and a decreased risk of both dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  Investigators pooled data from six longitudinal studies and over 31,000 participants in order to evaluate associations between the use of antihypertensive drugs and incident dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  For individuals diagnosed with high blood pressure, taking antihypertensive medications was associated with a 12% reduction in dementia risk and a 16% reduction in Alzheimer’s disease risk.  There was no association between antihypertensive use and disease risk among participants with normal blood pressure.  Taken together, these results help to reinforce the findings from the SPRINT-MIND trial and highlight the important role that antihypertensive drugs may play in helping to prevent dementia and AD among those who have high blood pressure. These findings were published in the Lancet Neurology.

NIH Hosts Webinar on Draft Policy for Data Management and Sharing

On Monday, December 16th, from 12:30—2:00 p.m. ET, NIH will host a webinar on the Draft NIH Policy for Data Management and Sharing, which defines institutional standards for the public reporting of NIH research results and outcomes.  This webinar is an opportunity to provide information on the Trans-NIH draft policy and to answer any clarifying questions on the public commentary process.  As a reminder, NIH is seeking public input on this draft policy through January 10, 2020.

Frequent Social Contact in Midlife May Reduce Dementia Risk

A retrospective analysis of the Whitehall II cohort study found that frequent social contact in midlife may reduce dementia risk.  Data collected over 28 years reveal that adults who reported frequent social contact (regularly seeing friends and family) in middle age were less likely to receive a dementia diagnosis. The researchers also reported that this effect seemed stronger for participants who reported frequent interactions with friends than for those who reported social contact only with family members. The authors suggest that being socially engaged may require greater activity in areas of the brain that contribute to language and memory, which in turn may account for better cognitive health. This research, published in PLOS Medicine, was funded in part by the NIA.

NIA Recent Change to Review Process for Program Projects

Dr. Robin Barr, Director of the NIA Division of Extramural Activities, blogged about a recent change to the NIA’s review process for program projects.  Beginning with the January 25, 2020 submission deadline, NIA will suspend the second-stage review.  Second-stage review is not gone – it remains an option for NIA – but a new pattern of scoring in initial review panels suggests that the second stage may not be necessary.  NIA also has a new funding announcement for program projects: some important changes include that NIA now allows these grants on all three submission deadlines of the year and has increased the amount allowable without preclearance.


The NIA has funded a major study to examine the overall health benefits and risk of statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) in adults age 75 or older without cardiovascular disease.  The trial, called Pragmatic Evaluation of Events and Benefits of Lipid-Lowering in Older Adults (PREVENTABLE), will help determine whether a statin can help prevent dementia and disability in this age group, as well as heart attacks and other cardiovascular-related deaths, while not increasing risks of adverse health outcomes. The investigators plan to enroll 20,000 participants who will be randomly assigned to take either the statin atorvastatin or a placebo daily for up to five years.