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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Antihypertensive withdrawal for the prevention of cognitive decline

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, November 2016
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  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (94th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (82nd percentile)

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1 blog
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52 X users
1 Facebook page
1 Wikipedia page


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300 Mendeley
1 CiteULike
Antihypertensive withdrawal for the prevention of cognitive decline
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, November 2016
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd011971.pub2
Pubmed ID

Susan Jongstra, Jennifer K Harrison, Terry J Quinn, Edo Richard


Clinical trials and observational data have variously shown a protective, harmful or neutral effect of antihypertensives on cognitive function. In theory, withdrawal of antihypertensives could improve cerebral perfusion and reduce or delay cognitive decline. However, it is also plausible that withdrawal of antihypertensives may have a detrimental effect on cognition through increased incidence of stroke or other vascular events. To assess the effects of complete withdrawal of at least one antihypertensive medication on incidence of dementia, cognitive function, blood pressure and other safety outcomes in cognitively intact and cognitive impaired adults. We searched ALOIS, the specialised register of the Cochrane Dementia and Cognitive Improvement Group, with additional searches conducted in MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL, LILACS, Web of Science Core Collection, ClinicalTrials.gov and the World Health Organization Portal/ICTRP on 12 December 2015. There were no language or date restrictions applied to the electronic searches, and no methodological filters were used to restrict the search. We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and controlled clinical trials (CCTs) provided they compared withdrawal of antihypertensive medications with continuation of the medications and included an outcome measure assessing cognitive function or a clinical diagnosis of dementia. We included studies with healthy participants, but we also included studies with participants with all grades of severity of existing dementia or cognitive impairment. Two review authors examined titles and abstracts of citations identified by the search for eligibility, retrieving full texts where needed to identify studies for inclusion, with any disagreement resolved by involvement of a third author. Data were extracted independently on primary and secondary outcomes. We used standard methodological procedures expected by Cochrane.The primary outcome measures of interest were changes in global and specific cognitive function and incidence of dementia; secondary outcomes included change in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, mortality, adverse events (including cardiovascular events, hospitalisation and falls) and adherence to withdrawal. The quality of the evidence was evaluated using the GRADE approach. We included two RCTs investigating withdrawal of antihypertensives in 2490 participants. There was substantial clinical heterogeneity between the included studies, therefore we did not combine data for our primary outcome. Overall, the quality of included studies was high and the risk of bias was low. Neither study investigated incident dementia.One study assessed withholding previously prescribed antihypertensive drugs for seven days following acute stroke. Cognition was assessed using telephone Mini-Mental State Examination (t-MMSE) and Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status (TICS-M) at 90 days as a secondary outcome. The t-MMSE score was a mean of 1.0 point higher in participants who withdrew antihypertensive medications compared to participants who continued them (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.35 to 1.65; 1784 participants) and the TICS-M was a mean of 2.10 points higher (95% CI 0.69 to 3.51; 1784 participants). However, in both cases the evidence was of very low quality downgraded due to risk of bias, indirectness and evidence from a single study. The other study was community based and included participants with mild cognitive impairment. Drug withdrawal was for 16 weeks. Cognitive performance was assessed using a composite of at least five out of six cognitive tests. There was no evidence of a difference comparing participants who withdrew antihypertensive medications and participants who continued (mean difference 0.02 points, 95% CI -0.19 to 0.21; 351 participants). This evidence was of low quality and was downgraded due to risk of bias and evidence from single study.In one study, the systolic blood pressure after seven days of withdrawal was 9.5 mmHg higher in the intervention compared to the control group (95% CI 7.43 to 11.57; 2095 participants) and diastolic blood pressure was 5.1 mmHg higher (95% CI 3.86 to 6.34; 2095 participants). This evidence was low quality, downgraded due to indirectness, because the data must be interpreted in the context of the wider study looking at glyceryl trinitrate administration or not, and evidence from a single study. In the other study, systolic blood pressure increased by 7.4 mmHg in the withdrawal group compared to the control group (95% CI 7.08 to 7.72; 356 participants) and diastolic blood pressure increased by 2.6 mmHg (95% CI 2.42 to 2.78; 356 participants). This was moderate quality evidence, downgraded as evidence was from a single study. We combined data for mortality and cardiovascular events. There was no clear evidence that antihypertensive medication withdrawal affected adverse events, although there was a possible trend to increased cardiovascular events in the large post-stroke study (pooled mortality risk ratio 0.88, 95% CI 0.72 to 1.08; 2485 participants; and cardiovascular events risk ratio 1.29, 95% CI 0.96 to 1.72). Certain prespecified outcomes of interest (falls, hospitalisation) were not reported. The effects of withdrawing antihypertensive medications on cognition or prevention of dementia are uncertain. There was a signal of a positive effect in one study looking at withdrawal after acute stroke but these results are unlikely to be generalisable to non-stroke settings and were not a primary outcome of the study. Withdrawing antihypertensive drugs was associated with increased blood pressure. It is unlikely to increase mortality at three to four months' follow-up, although there was a signal from one large study looking at withdrawal after stroke that withdrawal was associated an increase in cardiovascular events.

X Demographics

X Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 52 X users who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.
Mendeley readers

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 300 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Spain 1 <1%
Unknown 299 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 49 16%
Student > Bachelor 39 13%
Student > Ph. D. Student 31 10%
Researcher 29 10%
Other 15 5%
Other 45 15%
Unknown 92 31%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 72 24%
Nursing and Health Professions 41 14%
Psychology 27 9%
Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science 12 4%
Neuroscience 9 3%
Other 35 12%
Unknown 104 35%
Attention Score in Context

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 44. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 08 November 2022.
All research outputs
of 25,457,858 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 11,499 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 318,026 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 245 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 25,457,858 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 96th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 11,499 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 40.0. This one has done well, scoring higher than 86% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 318,026 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 94% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 245 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done well, scoring higher than 82% of its contemporaries.