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Heart drugs may cut dementia risk

Wednesday January 13th, 2010

By Jane Collingwood
Drugs for high blood pressure and heart disease may confer protection against Alzheimer's disease and dementia, researchers reported today.

A team led by Professor Benjamin Wolozin of Boston University, USA, looked at the possible effects of "angiotensin receptor blockers" on risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

They followed 819,491 participants aged 65 or more with cardiovascular disease for four years. All but two per cent were male.

Dementia rates for participants taking angiotensin receptor blockers were 19 per cent lower than for those taking the blood pressure lowering drug lisinopril, and 24 per cent lower than for those on other heart drugs.

Among patients already diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or dementia, those on angiotensin receptor blockers had a 49 per cent lower risk of admission to a nursing home than those on other heart drugs. Their risk of dying was 17 per cent lower, on average.

The drug's benefits increased on larger doses, and had an additive effect when taken with another type of high blood pressure drug, ACE inhibitors.

On the website of the British Medical Journal, the team conclude: "Angiotensin receptor blockers are associated with a significant reduction in the incidence and progression of Alzheimer's disease and dementia compared with angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors or other cardiovascular drugs in a predominantly male population."

They add that this "is a particularly important observation that could have a major impact on public health if validated by future studies".

But Dr Colleen Maxwell and Dr David Hogan of the University of Calgary, Canada, warn in an editorial that "further work is needed to verify the usefulness of antihypertensives in general and angiotensin receptor blockers in particular".

Li, N-C. et al. Use of angiotensin receptor blockers and risk of dementia in a predominantly male population: prospective cohort analysis. The British Medical Journal, 2010;340:b5465.

Maxwell, C. J. and Hogan, D. B. Antihypertensive agents and prevention of dementia. The British Medical Journal, 2010;340:b5409.

Tags: Brain & Neurology | Geriatric Health | Heart Health | Menís Health | North America | Pharmaceuticals

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