Have you noticed how there is an explosion of research in Alzheimer’s symptoms and disease?
Lately there seem to be a new study at least monthly.
This week the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease reported new findings out of Bristol, U.K. about the link between blood pressure medications and dementias, including Alzheimer’s.
Researchers studying blood pressure medications called angiotensin II receptor blockers found a significant reduction in developing Alzheimers symptoms in persons over the age of 60 taking them for high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.
In this study, the angiotensin II receptor blockers were associated with a 50% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s and a 25% lower risk of developing vascular dementias. Vascular dementias are associated with diseases of blood vessels, including high blood pressure.
For over a decade, links between high blood pressure and dementias have been known. The cause and effect – and prevention – has not been clear to researchers however.
What has been known is that the end result of activation of the pathway are findings seen in Alzheimer’s disease. Including…
- Decreased blood to the brain…
- Decreased oxygen to the brain…
- Memory loss…
- Increased inflammation of brain cells and…
- Increased damage and death of brain cells.
The renin angiotensin system is a hormone system in the body regulating water balance and blood pressure. The hormones involved are secreted mostly by the adrenal glands and kidneys. Angiotensin II narrows blood vessels resulting in high blood pressure. And it causes the adrenal glands to secrete aldosterone, a hormone which acts on the kidneys. Aldosterone leads to an increase in fluid in the body, which also increases blood pressure.
Can certain blood pressure medications stop or prevent Alzheimer’s disease?
It’s not clear. These results are preliminary.
While encouraging, the researchers say this is only one study. 60,000 people were studied, although probably not as extensively as more formal fully funded drug studies may involve. It certainly may be a reason to design and fund additional drug studies as the results are encouraging.
And individual doctors may take this information into consideration when prescribing blood pressure medications. The reasons for prescribing potent angiotensin II blockers need to be evaluated by a physician who knows how and when to prescribe them.
Why is this news encouraging?
“If we can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by five years, by some estimates we can cut the incidence of Alzheimer’s in half. If we can delay the disease by 10 years, we could almost eliminate it because people would die from other conditions first.”
— Stephen Rao, Ph.D.
Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health
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To your healthy caregiving,
Ina Gilmore, M.D. (Retired)
“The Knitting Dr.”