Researchers have found drugs prescribed for high blood pressure could cut the risk of Alzheimer's
Drugs prescribed since the 1960s to lower blood pressure may cut the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers claim.
A study suggests beta blockers protect against changes in the brain which can be signs of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.
Having high blood pressure – hypertension – in middle age puts patients more at risk of developing these conditions, as well as heart and circulatory disorders.
But the latest research suggests drugs taken for high blood pressure can offer some protection.
The study examined the brains of 774 elderly Japanese-American men after death. They had all taken part in the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study.
Of the men, 610 had high blood pressure or were being treated for high blood pressure.
Among the 350 who had been treated, 15 per cent had received beta blockers alone, 18 per cent had been given beta blockers plus another high blood pressure medication and the rest had received other blood pressure drugs.
The study found that all types of high blood pressure treatments were clearly better at protecting the brain than no treatment, according to preliminary data presented yesterday at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in San Diego.
But men who had been given beta blockers as their only blood pressure medication had fewer brain abnormalities compared with those who had not been treated for hypertension, or those who had received other high blood pressure drugs.
The brains of men who had received beta blockers along with other high blood pressure medication showed an intermediate reduction in brain abnormalities.
These included two distinct types of brain lesion – those indicating Alzheimer’s disease, and lesions called microinfarcts, usually attributed to tiny, unrecognised strokes.
And whether they had taken beta blockers alone or in combination with another blood pressure medication, those treated had significantly less shrinkage in their brains.
Study author Dr Lon White, of the Pacific Health Research and Education Institute in Honolulu, said: ‘These results are exciting, especially since beta blockers are a common treatment for high blood pressure.’
Dr Simon Ridley, of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: ‘Hypertension is a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s and other causes of dementia, and keeping high blood pressure in check could be important for preventing these diseases.
Experts say understanding the relationship between different blood pressure drugs and Alzheimer's is useful for treatment development and risk reduction
‘This study suggests a link between the use of beta blockers and fewer signs of dementia, but as the results of this study have yet to be published in full, it’s not clear what caused this link.
‘It’s important to note that this study only looked at Japanese-American men, and these results may not be applicable to the wider population.
‘While we can’t conclude from this study that beta blockers can prevent dementia, a better understanding of the links between high blood pressure and dementia could be crucial for developing new treatments or approaches to prevention.’
Jessica Smith, research officer for the Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘Understanding the relationships between different blood pressure drugs and Alzheimer’s is not only useful for risk reduction but also Alzheimer’s treatment development.
‘However, this is a small study and more research is needed on a larger scale to find out why beta blockers might have this effect.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2258779/Beta-blockers-cut-Alzheimers-risk-Drugs-protect-changes-brain.html#ixzz2HPJaw2Wq
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