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Blood pressure-lowering drugs may help prevent Alzheimer's disease

02/26/2010 - Articles

Blood pressure-lowering drugs may help prevent Alzheimer's disease

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD

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Alzheimer’s disease is a major public health threat, as the population ages. Therefore, as well as diagnosis and treatment, we need new information on how to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. We know that mid-life heart disease risk factors, like high blood pressure and diabetes, can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Therefore, can drugs that normalise blood pressure and treat diabetes also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in later life?

A team at Boston University School of Medicine looked at the incidence of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, in a group of over 800,000 individuals, according to the type of blood pressure-lowering drug they were taking. One group was on angiotensin receptor blockers, one on a drug called linisopril, and the third group on a number of comparable, commonly used, heart drugs. All of the participants were over 65 at the start and had heart disease.

The findings were showed that those on angiotensin receptor blockers were significantly less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia than those in the other groups. Therefore, if blood pressure-lowering drugs are to be used to ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as well as to treat heart disease, then it matters which one is prescribed. What is more, angiotensin receptor blockers and angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors had an additive effect. Participants who were taking both drugs who also had dementia or Alzheimer’s disease were less likely to either die early or need to be admitted to a nursing home. This is the first study to compare the performance of different blood pressure-lowering drugs in preventing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. As there are so many different blood pressure-lowering drugs, it will now be important to carry out further studies so that the best form of chemoprevention for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can be determined.

 

Source

Li N-C et al Use of angiotensin receptor blocker and risk of dementia in a predominantly male population: prospective cohort analysis British Medical Journal Online First 13th January 2010 doi:10.1136/bmj.b5465

 

Created on: 02/25/2010
Reviewed on: 02/26/2010

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