Can blood pressure drugs reduce the risk of dementia?

January 7, 2013

People taking the blood pressure drugs called beta blockers may be less likely to have changes in the brain that can be signs of Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 65th Annual Meeting in San Diego, March 16 to 23, 2013.

The study involved 774 elderly Japanese-American men who took part in the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study. Autopsies were performed on the men after their death. Of the 774 men, 610 had high blood pressure or were being treated with medication for high blood pressure. Among those who had been treated (about 350), 15 percent received only a beta blocker medication, 18 percent received a beta blocker plus one or more other medications, and the rest of the participants received other .

The study found that all types of blood pressure treatments were clearly better than no treatment. However, men who had received beta blockers as their only blood pressure medication had fewer abnormalities in their brains compared to those who had not been treated for their hypertension, or who had received other blood pressure medications. The brains of participants who had received beta blockers plus other medications showed an intermediate reduction in numbers of .

These included two distinct types of : those indicating Alzheimer's disease, and lesions called microinfarcts, usually attributed to tiny, multiple, unrecognized strokes. who had taken beta blockers alone or in combination with another had significantly less shrinkage in their brains.

"With the number of people with Alzheimer's disease expected to grow significantly as our population ages, it is increasingly important to identify factors that could delay or prevent the disease," said study author Lon White, MD, of the Pacific Health Research and Education Institute in Honolulu. "These results are exciting, especially since beta blockers are a common treatment for high blood pressure."

Earlier research has shown that in midlife is a strong risk factor for dementia.

Explore further: Blood pressure drugs don't protect against colorectal cancer

Related Stories

Blood pressure drugs don't protect against colorectal cancer

May 14, 2012
A new study has found that, contrary to current thinking, taking beta blockers that treat high blood pressure does not decrease a person's risk of developing colorectal cancer. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed ...

Two common blood pressure meds fare equally in preventing heart woes

August 27, 2012
(HealthDay)—In a review that compared two common heart drugs against each other, researchers found no difference between atenolol and metoprolol in terms of preventing stroke, heart attack or heart failure for patients ...

Recommended for you

The neural codes for body movements

July 21, 2017
A small patch of neurons in the brain can encode the movements of many body parts, according to researchers in the laboratory of Caltech's Richard Andersen, James G. Boswell Professor of Neuroscience, Tianqiao and Chrissy ...

Faulty support cells disrupt communication in brains of people with schizophrenia

July 20, 2017
New research has identified the culprit behind the wiring problems in the brains of people with schizophrenia. When researchers transplanted human brain cells generated from individuals diagnosed with childhood-onset schizophrenia ...

Scientists reveal how patterns of brain activity direct specific body movements

July 20, 2017
New research by Columbia scientists offers fresh insight into how the brain tells the body to move, from simple behaviors like walking, to trained movements that may take years to master. The discovery in mice advances knowledge ...

Scientists discover combined sensory map for heat, humidity in fly brain

July 20, 2017
Northwestern University neuroscientists now can visualize how fruit flies sense and process humidity and temperature together through a "sensory map" within their brains, according to new research.

Team traces masculinization in mice to estrogen receptor in inhibitory neurons

July 20, 2017
Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have opened a black box in the brain whose contents explain one of the remarkable yet mysterious facts of life.

Speech language therapy delivered through the Internet leads to similar improvements as in-person treatment

July 20, 2017
Telerehabilitation helps healthcare professionals reach more patients in need, but some worry it doesn't offer the same quality of care as in-person treatment. This isn't the case, according to recent research by Baycrest.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.