People with high blood pressure are up to 600% more likely to develop dementia, according to new research released by Alzheimer's Society during Dementia Awareness Week.
High blood pressure led to a six-fold increase in vascular dementia, the second most common form of dementia in the UK, according to the research.
High blood pressure, which affects one in three adults in the UK, also doubles the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and increases risk of stroke, which damages the brain and can trigger dementia.
High blood pressure restricts oxygen to the brain but the symptoms often go unnoticed and a quarter of people are not aware they have it. Alzheimer's Society estimates that tackling the problem in midlife could reduce the number of deaths from dementia by up to 15,000 people a year.
Neil Hunt, chief executive, Alzheimer's Society says: "Everyone should get their blood pressure and cholesterol checked regularly and receive effective treatment if they are at risk. Having a low salt diet, maintaining a healthy weight and regulating your alcohol intake can also help tackle high blood pressure."
Professor Clive Ballard, director of research, Alzheimer's Society says: "Treating people's high blood pressure to best practice standards is vital. Only half of people over 65 receive effective treatment, yet we know treatment works. In the US a combination of public awareness campaigns and rigorous treatment has reduced cardio-vascular disease by up to 60%. By working together, we can take the same steps towards reducing the risk of dementia in the UK."