Scientists have learned that angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) may be linked to a striking decrease in the occurrence and progression of dementia. ARBs are a particular class of anti-hypertensive medicines.
Using data from the Decision Support System Database of the U.S. Department of Health System Veterans Affairs, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) looked at records from patients who used ARBs, and compared them with subjects who had a similar health status, but were taking different medications.
They found patients taking ARBs had up to a 50 percent lower chance of getting Alzheimer's disease or dementia.
Patients taking two forms of medications targeting the angiotensin system, ARBs and Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, had a 55 percent lower risk of dementia.
The researchers also examined patients who were already suffering from Alzheimer's disease or dementia, and found those subjects had up to a 67 percent lower chance of being admitted to nursing homes or dying if they were taking both ARBs and ACE inhibitors.
Patients who appeared to benefit particularly well from use of ARBs were those who had experienced strokes before or during the course of their illness.
According to the researchers, these results suggest that ARBs might protect against developing Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
"For those who already have dementia, use of ARBs might delay deterioration of brain function and help keep patients out of nursing homes," said senior author Benjamin Wolozin, a professor
of pharmacology at BUSM.
These findings appear in the January issue of the British Medical Journal.