A number of drugs are available to treat high blood pressure, which have different modes of action. The researchers were particularly interested in the drugs which target a specific biochemical pathway called the renin angiotensin system, as this pathway is thought to affect the development of Alzheimer’s.
The scientists used a database which holds anonymised data of around ten million people who attend GP surgeries across the UK. They looked at almost 60,000 people on the database over the age of 60 and found that those being treated with blood pressure drugs which target the renin angiotensin system were 50% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s and about 25% less likely to develop vascular dementia than people being given any other type of blood pressure drug.
It is hoped that these results will lead onto further clinical trials investigating the potential of these particular blood pressure drugs to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.
Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, welcomed the new findings. He said:
“High blood pressure is a known risk factor for dementia. This study highlights the potential for particular blood pressure drugs to help with Alzheimer’s disease. If these findings can be supported in clinical trials, this could be an important step forward.”
“With over 820,000 people in the UK living with dementia, there is a desperate need to find new treatments and prevention strategies. Dementia research is hugely underfunded compared to other common diseases, and so it is vital that we invest in research now.”
Alzheimer’s Research UK