A new study has been published in PLOS Medicine that is suggesting people with high blood pressure have a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. The authors of the study say that the blood pressure medication seems to lower the risk of developing the neurodegenerative disease known as Alzheimer’s. This disease is really aggressive once it sets in, and it often leads to severe neurological changes in those who are diagnosed with the disease, and it does often times lead to an early death.
Co-author of the study, John Kauwe, who is the associate professor at Brigham Young University, syas that the antihypertensive medications used to treat high blood pressure provide the brain with a protective sheath essentially. Kauwe said that since these medications are already approved by the Food and Drug Administration, doctors need to begin taking a look at this medication to help prevent the development of Alzheimer’s Disease. The researchers collected and analyzed genetic data of over 17,000 people who had Alzheimer’s Disease and over 37,000 people who did not have the disease. The researchers used a supercomputer from Brigham Young University to analyze the data, and they collaborated with experts from the University of Cambridge, Aarhus University in Denmark, and the University of Washington.
The research team was looking into the possible association between Alzheimer’s Disease and a lo of other health issues such as high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes. The researchers found that there was a significant connection between the higher systolic blood pressure and the decrease in risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. The co-author of the study was Paul Crane, who is an associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Washington. Crane issued a press release which he stated that “It may be that high blood pressure is protective, or it may be that something that people with high blood pressure are exposed to more often, such as antihypertensive medication, is protecting them from Alzheimer’s disease.”
In terms of dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common type, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 5 million Americans were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Diease in 2013. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that about 14 million Americans will end up contracting Alzheimer’s Disease by the year 2050. The issue with the results of this study is that people who don’t have high blood pressure cannot simply just take high blood pressure medication, since this is dangerous and will end up causing someone to wind up with very low blood pressure. Although this is good news for people who are already taking high blood pressure medication, the researchers would like to find a way to give people with regular blood pressure this type of medication in order to help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, especially in people where there is a family history or other risk factors that make them more susceptible to developing the disease.
More research will need to be done in order to try to figure out what specifically in the high blood pressure medication helps prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. If researchers can narrow down a specific ingredient in the medication or narrow down what part of the brain the blood pressure medication impacts, then there is a better chance of making a medication that can simulate the high blood pressure medication for people who are not dealing with high blood pressure. The good news is that since these medications are already approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it will be a lot easier to carry out more studies on the drugs since they have been already proven safe and effective for human consumption. The researchers are hopeful that future studies will also show how the high blood pressure medication works to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, given that Alzheimer’s Disease is one that does not have a cure at this point, and is a life-threatening and often fatal aggressive diagnosis. Researchers have cautioned though that the blood pressure medication does not stop Alzheimer’s Disease from occurring all together, but it is providing some hope to help lessen the risk of developing the disease.