Blood Pressure Drugs May Protect Against Alzheimer's

SUNDAY July 27, 2008 -- The use of blood pressure drugs called angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) is associated with lower incidence and slower progression of Alzheimer's disease, researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine report.

Their analysis of U.S. government data revealed that patients taking ARBs were 35 percent to 40 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia than people who didn't take the drugs.

The study also found that people with Alzheimer's disease or dementia who took ARBs were up to 45 percent less likely to develop delirium, to be admitted to nursing homes, or to die. Patients who suffered strokes before or during being diagnosed with Alzheimer's or dementia seemed to especially benefit from taking ARBs.

The findings were expected to be presented Sunday at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Chicago.

The results indicate that ARBs might protect people against Alzheimer's disease and dementia, the researchers said.

"For those who already have dementia, use of ARBs might delay deterioration of brain function and help keep patients out of nursing homes," Dr. Benjamin Wolozin, a professor of pharmacology, said in a university news release.

"The study is particularly interesting, because we compared the effects of ARBs to other medications used for treating blood pressure or cardiovascular disease. This suggests that ARBs are more effective than other blood pressure and cardiovascular medications for preventing Alzheimer's disease or dementia," Wolozin said.

It's not clear why ARBs may be beneficial, but it may be because they help prevent nerve cell injury from blood vessel damage or help promote nerve recovery after blood vessel damage, the researchers said.

It's believed that damage to blood vessels reduces brain capacity and promotes dementia. Reducing this kind of damage may prevent or slow the progression of dementia.

Posted: July 2008


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