According to reseasrches, drugs used to treat hypertension could delay muscle loss and disability in seniors. Dr.Graziano Onder, research associate at University of Hopkins has suggested new, beneficial effects of (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme) ACE-inhibitor drugs, which are widely used for hypertension, beneficial effects on muscle strength and overall physical performance in older adults. This research must be confirmed in future clinical trials.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved such ACE inhibitors as Accupril, Captopril, Altace and Vasotec. The retrospective study at Hokins, published in the medical journal The Lancet, involved analysis of three years of data from 1995 to 1999 on 650 hypertensive and partially disabled women over 60 who participated in the Women's Health and Aging Study, a project of the National Institute on Aging in Bethesda, Md.
The women on continuous ACE inhibitor therapy showed slower loss of walking speed and muscle strength compared to those using other hypertension drugs or using none. During repeated testing over the three-year period, the subjects walking speeds were measured and they were graded on muscle strength.
Correlating that data to pharmaceutical records, the researchers found women on continuous ACE inhibitor therapy had a lower average decline in muscle strength of 2.5 pounds over the three years, as compared to intermittent users of other antihypertensive drugs, at 7.5 pounds and non-users at minus 8.1 pounds.
Continuous ACE inhibitor users had a smaller loss in walking speed -- sixth-tenths of an inch per second compared with intermittent users of ACE inhibitors at 5.3 inches per second, 6.1 inches per second for intermittent users of other antihypertensive drugs and 7 inches per second for non-users.
"If these findings can be confirmed in randomized controlled trials, ACE inhibitors could not only be used as first-line treatment of older adults with hypertension, but could also be used to slow physical decline in elderly people," Onder said. "However, pharmaceutical companies are not very interested in ACE-inhibitors right now."
ACE inhibitors have been on the market for more than 10 years, he added, and patents are soon expiring. Onder said he would seek governmental grant funding for a new clinical trial. Dr. Marjolein Visser, assistant professor of medicine suggested that muscle strength and loss of muscle strength is such an important factor in the development of disability in old age. The next step will be to find out whether the same results are obtained from a non-disabled population, to see whether people who use these common medications might actually delay the onset of disability in old age.