Blood Pressure-Alzheimer’s Connection

Every 68 seconds an American develops Alzheimer’s disease, so chances are that you already know someone battling this terrible disease. In all, there are an estimated 5.2 million Americans currently living with Alzheimer’s disease. Today there are new tantalizing clues that controlling blood pressure could play a role in keeping Alzheimer’s at bay.

A cure for this mind-sapping disease remains elusive, yet Johns Hopkins researchers recently discovered that people taking certain blood pressure medications might be at a lower risk of later developing Alzheimer’s disease. This intriguing protective bonus effect of blood pressure medication adds to other connections recently learned about Alzheimer’s disease risk. For instance, earlier this year in my blog Chemotherapy on the Brain, research was presented at the 2013 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference indicating that most cancers (with the exception of prostate, colorectal, and skin cancers) correlate with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease later in life. Furthermore, chemotherapy treatment for cancer adds additional protection against Alzheimer’s disease.

Research at that same conference also revealed that the diabetes medication Metformin appears to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in older people with type 2 diabetes. And now the Johns Hopkins researchers put blood pressure medication in their sights. According to the study published by these researchers in a recent issue of Neurology, when people age 75+ take one of the following medications: diuretics, angiotensin-1 receptor blockers (ARBs), or angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, their risk of Alzheimer’s-related dementia is cut in half.

It remains unclear why these anti-hypertensive drugs could provide cognitive protection, but if this connection bears out in further research, it would be welcome news to the Alzheimer’s field, which currently has few tools for people looking to reduce their Alzheimer’s risk. In the future, it may make sense for physicians to select an anti-hypertensive for patients not only in terms of controlling blood pressure, but based on their risk of Alzheimer’s disease, as well.


What do you think

I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments section below.

Stephen C Vogt, PharmD
President and CEO BioPlus SP


Yasar S, Xia J, Yao W, et al. Antihypertensive drugs decrease risk of Alzheimer disease: Ginkgo evaluation of memory study. Neurology 2013;81(10): 896.

The Alzheimer’s Association.

Alzheimer’s Association. 2013 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference. Boston, July 13-18, 2013.

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