Hypertension Drugs May Lower Alzheimer's Risk

Blood pressure medication may ward off Alzheimers disease

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Patients suffering from hypertension may be at an added benefit. Their blood pressure medication may help lower their risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

In particular blood pressure drugs that target the activity of a biochemical pathway, called the renin angiotensin system, could help patients cut their risk of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

"See a neurologist if you suspect Alzheimer's disease."

Dr Patrick Kehoe, a study author and co-leader of the Dementia Research Group at Frenchay Hospital in England, emphasized that drugs capable of preventing or delaying Alzheimer's could have a substantial benefit for future patients, families and the healthcare system.

He noted that drugs to treat memory loss by attempting to correct chemical imbalances in the brain only work for a limited time so a need still exists to find ways to prevent the devastating neurodegenerative condition.

University of Bristol researchers reviewed more than 20,000 cases of individuals over the age of 60 who suffered from dementia. Those patients were compared against more than 77,000 control patients.

Of the nearly 100,000 cases reviewed, about half had taken one of two different blood pressure drugs that target the renin angiotensin system in the previous 10 years.

Researchers found that patients who took one of the two blood pressure drugs had a 50 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. They also had a 25 percent lower risk of developing vascular dementia as compared to patients who did not take the anti-hypertensive drugs.

Researchers suspect the finding may involve specific biological alterations and are not simply caused by the medications lowering blood pressure.

Researchers are planning clinical trials to test observations they found during the study. Dr. Kehoe said that if found to be successful, blood pressure medications could quickly be added to Alzheimer's care since the drugs already are widely used for other conditions and tend to have lower side effects.

The research was published in the November issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

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Review Date: 
October 23, 2011
Last Updated:
April 9, 2012