Blood pressure drugs may protect against Alzheimers and dementia

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Can blood pressure medicines protect against dementia?

Research presented at the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease has suggested that people taking angiotensin receptor blocker medicines (ARBs) may be less likely to develop dementia than people taking other medicines for high blood pressure. People who have dementia and who are taking ARBs may also progress more slowly than others.

Research by a team from Boston University looked at the medical records of over 5 million people treated for high blood pressure between 2001 and 2006. People taking ARBs were up to 40% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia than people taking other medicines. In addition, people who already had dementia were 45% less likely to move into a care home, to develop certain symptoms or to die prematurely.

High blood pressure raises your risk of developing dementia, so it makes sense that lowering your blood pressure lowers your dementia risk. However, this research suggests that ARBs may be working in other areas, on top of their blood-pressure lowering effect. It may be that they work to protect brain cells from injury due to damaged blood vessels.

The research team has been given funding to study the medical records of a further 3 million people, to see if this effect continues over a much larger sample. However, observing medical records cannot tell us how or why ARBs may protect against dementia. For this, large-scale clinical trials will be needed to show that ARBs are safe and effective in treating dementia.

Topics: Research, High Blood Pressure in the news, Medicines, High blood pressure

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