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Could blood pressure drug help treat dementia?

A study from researchers in Ireland, published in BMJ Open, looked at a class of drugs called angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and their relationship to dementia. These drugs help lower blood pressure by relaxing the walls of the blood vessels.

Over a period of six months, the study found that patients taking the drugs had slightly slower rates of mental decline than those who were not taking them. The results of the study suggest that ACE inhibitors may slow down the rate of mental decline in some dementia patients during the first six months of treatment.

However, this was a very short and small study; it is not known if the small differences seen in mental decline would have long-term benefits.  As the study was conducted in a ‘real world’ setting, it is also unclear whether the changes are a result of the ACE inhibitors alone or just as a by-product of better controlled blood pressure.

Katharine Jenner, CEO of Blood Pressure UK says “This study is interesting as it may benefit those who suffer from Vascular dementia (VD) as a result of a stroke, but it is still early days in the research.  We would like to see further research conducted.  In the meantime, take steps to reduce your blood pressure to avoid suffering a stroke, and only take ACE inhibitors if you have been prescribed the medication by your GP.”

Click here for the full paper in BMJ Open 

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