Blood pressure drugs lower risk of Alzheimer’s

Researchers from Boston University have found that drugs commonly used to treat high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease could delay or prevent Alzheimer’s.

Posted on 13th January 2010

The team discovered that angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) are associated with a “striking decrease” in the occurrence and progression of dementia. The findings, predominantly focused on males (98%), are published in the British Medical Journal.

With access to the health records of over 5 million people through the U.S. Department of Health System Veterans Affairs database, the researchers looked at the records of patients who used ARBs, comparing them with people who were in similar health, but using other medications.

The study revealed that patients taking ARBs had a lower chance of developing Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. If patients supplemented ARB medication with angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, another cardiovascular treatment, dementia risk reduced again.

Patients who already had a form of dementia, who were taking both the ARB and ACE inhibitor treatments, had a lower chance of being admitted to nursing homes or dying.

Rebecca Wood, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, said:
“This adds further weight to the adage that what is good for the heart is good for the head. It could be that ARBs protect brain cells from injury caused by damaged blood vessels, thought to have links to the development of dementia. This new clue must inspire further comprehensive trials to see how far ARBs could help protect against the condition.

“The population in the UK living with dementia is forecast to double to 1.4 million within a generation, the need for research offering some hope of heading off the condition could not be more acute”.

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