Common blood pressure drugs may slow mental decline
Patients who take ACE inhibitors to fight high blood pressure exhibit slower rates of cognitive decline among people diagnosed with dementia, according to a study published in BMJ Open. The study found, in fact, that these medications could not only slow cognitive decline in patients with Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia, but also may help boost brain power.
Researchers looked at the cognitive abilities of 361 patients—the average age was 77—diagnosed with either Alzheimer's, vascular dementia, or both. At the start of the study, 85 patients were already used antihypertensive drugs. Another 30 were prescribed the medications during the first six months of treatment. The patients were analyzed for brain power activity using the Standardized Mini Mental State examination or the Quick Mild Cognitive Impairment test.
The results showed that the patients taking the ACE inhibitors had slower rates of cognitive decline compared to those who were not taking the drugs. The study also showed that those who were newly prescribed the medications saw improved brain power in comparison to those who were already taking the medications and to those who were not taking any drugs at all. However, the study authors said this could be due to the newly prescribed patients having better control over their medication regimen, or due to better blood pressure control or improved blood flow to the brain.
The scientists acknowledge that further research is necessary. This particular study showed a passive relationship between factors and was not a randomized trial of sufficient length or with appropriate control settings to draw definitive conclusions.