High blood pressure is something that happens to almost all of us as we age, but if it's too high, it can wreak havoc on our bodies. The more work our hearts have to do to get blood through our arteries, the more at risk we are for strokes and heart attacks.
And Alzheimer's it turns out. "Hypertension reduces blood flow throughout the body and brain and is a risk factor of Alzheimer's disease," notes Juan M. Saavedra, M.D., of Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. But Dr. Saavedra and his team have discovered something even more interesting: Taking medication to lower your blood pressure can delay or even prevent this form of dementia.
In the lab, the Georgetown University doctors studied the effects of candesartan (brand names: Blopress and Atacand) on neural cells collected from patients who'd died from Alzheimer's. The candesartan was able to reduce the cell damage associated with the disease.
Candesartan may not be the only high-blood pressure drug that can do this. Another class of medications, called Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer's by as much as 50 percent, according to a previous study. The next step is to test this type of medication on people in the early stages of Alzheimer's whose blood pressure is normal.
If you're on blood-pressure medications, talk to the doctor about this potentially beneficial side effect.
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