NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Researchers have announced an important update about a surprising way to ward off mild cognitive impairment. A new study shows that aggressively lowering blood pressure can reduce a patient’s risk of developing dementia.

The study presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference found intensively treating blood pressure to lower the top number to 120, down from the previously considered high normal of 140, can lower the chances of developing both mild cognitive impairment and dementia.

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“This is really the first time we have been able to show in a clinical trial that aggressive management of these cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure can reduce a person’s risk for cognitive impairment,” Dr. Keith Fargo said.

The study looked at more than 9,000 people, patients who received more aggressive treatment had a 19 percent lower risk of decline in memory and thinking skills.

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“Diet and exercise, the reduction in salt and medications if blood pressure was not reduced to less than 120,” Dr. Jackson Wright from the Cleveland Medical Center said.

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Researchers advise thinking about your cognitive health at an early age. If you have cardiovascular risk factors like high blood pressure, get them under control in your 30s and 40s.

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Old guidelines considered a top number of 140 as hypertension and where a patient would begin medication. That’s not been lowered to 130, meaning about half of U.S. adults have blood pressure above that number and should be actively working to lower it.