Beta Blockers and Dementia.
Taking beta-blocker drugs may cut the risk of dementia, a trial in 774 men suggests.
The medication is used to treat high blood pressure, a known risk factor for dementia.
In the study, which was presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s March meeting, men on beta-blockers were less likely to have brain changes suggestive of dementia.
Experts say it is too early to recommend beta-blockers for dementia.
The findings are preliminary and larger studies in men and women from different ethnicities are needed to see what benefit beta-blockers might offer.
These results are exciting, especially since beta blockers are a common treatment for high blood pressure”
Study author Dr Lon WhitePacific Health Research and Education Institute in Honolulu said “These results are exciting, especially since beta blockers are a common treatment for high blood pressure”
People with high blood pressure are advised to see their doctor and get their condition under control to prevent associated complications like heart disease, stroke and vascular dementia.
Brain blood flow
Having high blood pressure may damage the small vessels that supply the brain with blood. Blood carries essential oxygen and nourishment to the brain and without it, brain cells can die.
Vascular dementia is the second most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease and can occur if blood flow to the brain is reduced.
In a much larger sample of men in other research – 800,000 in all – suggests another type of blood pressure drug known as an angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) may cut dementia risk, including Alzheimer’s disease, by as much as 50%.
Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Hypertension is a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s and other causes of dementia, and keeping high blood pressure in check could be important for preventing these diseases.
“This study suggests a link between the use of beta-blockers and fewer signs of dementia, but as the results of this study have yet to be published in full, it’s not clear what caused this link. It’s important to note that this study only looked at Japanese-American men, and these results may not be applicable to the wider population.
He said a better understanding of the links between high blood pressure and dementia could be crucial for developing new treatments or approaches to prevention.
“With 820,000 people affected by dementia in the UK, and that number increasing, we urgently need to find ways to prevent the diseases that cause it – that requires a massive investment in research,” Dr Ridley added.