Alzheimer’s Disease is one that we all fear. This disease is finally getting more attention and research seems to be paying off with drugs that delay the progression of the disease and new drugs in the pipeline to alter the course of the disease.
Most evidence links high blood pressure in midlife to increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia, or developing thinking and memory problems as they age. Although, based on epidemiologic research from a study published in 2011 in Epidemiology, there is not a clear a causal association between blood pressure and Alzheimer disease.
However, a new study of 774 elderly Japanese-American men who took a blood pressure medication in a category known as beta-blockers were less likely to have changes in their brains that can be signs of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, compared to men who took other types of blood-pressure-lowering drugs. The findings will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 65th Annual Meeting in San Diego.
Of the 774 men, 610 had high blood pressure or were being treated for high blood pressure. Among about 350 who had been treated, 15% received a beta-blocker, 18% received a beta-blocker plus one or more other medications, and the rest received other blood pressure drugs. Autopsies on these men showed that those who had taken beta-blockers for high blood pressure had fewer changes in their brains consistent with Alzheimer’s Disease. Although beta-blockers alone were superior to other forms of treatment, the investigators of the study concluded that all types of blood pressure medications seemed to have a positive effect on the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s-related damage.
Another class of medications used to treat high blood pressure, known as angiotensin receptor blockers, also demonstrated a benefit of reducing the amount of plaque in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and others, according to a study published online in theArchives of Neurology in September 2012.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, research does show that a brain-healthy diet is one that reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes, encourages good blood flow to the brain, and is low in fat and cholesterol. Like the heart, the brain needs the right balance of nutrients, including protein and sugar, to function well. A brain-healthy diet is most effective when combined with physical and mental activity and social interaction.
This information should serve as a reminder to know your blood pressure numbers. It is well known that blood pressure is a risk factor for a number of things including heart attack and stroke, but now we also know it is a risk for dementia. If you have high blood pressure, you should see your physician to get started on medication.
With February coming up, it will be Heart Health Month. Greentree Pharmacy will be participating in a great program called Million Hearts to help in preventing 1 million heart attacks in 5 years. If you are interested in a free blood pressure screening and simple tips on how you can keep your blood pressure down, come visit Greentree Pharmacy.
Best In Health,
Paul Hueseman, PharmD
301 S. Kirkwood Rd.
Kirkwood, MO 63122
American Academy of Neurology’s 65th Annual Meeting, San Diego, Calif., March 16-23, 2013.
Epidemiology. 2011 Sep;22(5):646-59