Blood Pressure Drugs May Help Prevent Dementia

A new study suggests that some blood pressure drugs may also help stave off the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Researchers from Boston University have found out that blood pressure drugs that block the protein angiotensin may also play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s and other similar diseases.

The said study involved more than 819,000 US veterans, most of them men, who are taking blood pressure medications that block cell receptors for angiotensin. Angiotensin is a type of protein that causes the blood vessels to restrict and raises blood pressure. The study found out that those who took blood pressure drugs that block angiotensin also had a lower risk for dementia as compared to those taking other types of cardiovascular medicines.

Drugs that lower angiotensin production in the body as well as those that block the cell receptors for the protein can help lower blood pressure. Men in the study taking an angiotensin receptor blocker had a 24 percent less risk of developing dementia compared to those taking other types of blood pressure lowering medicines. Those participants who took ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors experienced a 19 percent lower risk. The risk was nearly halved foe those participants who took both medicines targeting angiotensins.

Dr. Benjamin Wolozin, a professor of pharmacology and neurology at Boston University and senior author of a report on the findings, said that the reason behind this beneficial effect on the brain is not yet clear. But improved blood flow may play a big role.

"If you get no blood to the brain, you’re not going to think well," Dr. Wolozin said. "Also, in brain cells there is more than one kind of angiotensin receptor. By blocking bad receptors, you are left with the good ones so that helps neurons become more resilient."

But Dr. Wolozin is also quick to add that the said study may not yet provide conclusive proof that regular use of angiotensin receptor blockers may prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The said study may be described as an observational one that lacks strict controls. Further study may be needed to determine clearly the role that such drugs may play on dementia and other similar diseases.



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