Do you think Blood pressure drugs could halve risk of Alzheimer’s ?
Campaigners searching for ways to tackle dementia, which affects more than 800,000 people in Britain, have hailed the findings by academics at Bristol University as “an important step forward”.
The study of almost 60,000 people in Britain over 60, found those taking a particular type of blood pressure lowering drug were 50 per cent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s, than those on other types of anti-hypertensive medication.
They were also 25 per cent less likely to develop vascular dementia, the second most common form of the brain-wasting disease.
The drugs which appear to have the most protective effect are called angiotensin II receptor blockers, or ARBs. They are commonly prescribed to under 55s to tackle high blood pressure. Millions are thought to take them already.
These affect the renin angiotensin system, which helps regulate blood pressure and fluid balance.
Another type of drug to affect this system, called angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (or ACE-Is), also appeared to have a protective effect, although it was only about half as strong.
Dr Patrick Kehoe of Bristol University’s school of clinical sciences and the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, who co-authored the report, said it was the first large-scale trial to find such an association.
He said: “If these results are borne out in clinical trials, then we’ll have a swathe of drugs that could be used against Alzheimer’s.
“On a personal level I’m very excited because this is something I have been working on for a decade.”
However, he cautioned that their use to combat dementia was “a little way off” because the observational study, which used anonymised data from the General Practice Research Database, did not prove causation.
“That’s the million dollar question,” he added.
“Nobody should be rushing to their doctor saying they want to be put on these just yet.”
However, results of the trial, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, did account for underlying differences in blood pressure between individuals.
This is important because people with high blood pressure are known to be at a higher risk of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia than others.
Dr Kehoe thus explained that the halving of risk was over and above anything brought about by the drugs’ effect on lowering blood pressure.
He said laboratory studies showed that the drugs interacted with the root causes of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.
Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This study highlights the potential for particular blood pressure drugs to help with Alzheimer’s disease. If these findings can be supported in clinical trials, this could be an important step forward.
“With over 820,000 people in the UK living with dementia, there is a desperate need to find new treatments and prevention strategies.”
Source: The Telegraph