Dementia was found to have been prevented in older individuals of African-American origin when they used commonly prescribed anti-hypertensive medication to manage their hypertension, finds a new study. The findings of this study are published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
African Americans are especially at risk of both hypertension and dementia. The new study provides substantial evidence of significant reduction of risk of onset of dementia for African American men and women age 65 and older with hypertension when they take any of a variety of drug classes for their high blood pressure. These medications include beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blocks and diuretics.
The large study looked at the effects of Anti hypertensive treatment on the risk of dementia over a period of up to 24 years in 1262 older African Americans with high blood pressure who were cognitively normal at the onset of the study.
In previous work, the Regenstrief Institute researchers reported that anti-hypertensive medications had a protective effect, reducing the odds of cognitive impairment in older African Americans. The new study investigated the effect of anti-hypertensive medications on cognitive impairment and dementia, determining that it is blood pressure reduction rather than the medications that lower risk of dementia.
The most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey indicates that a quarter of patients with hypertension were not receiving an anti-hypertensive medication.
"Controlling blood pressure is important for lowering risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease," Dr. Murray said. "We can now add prevention of dementia to the list of benefits of good blood pressure control at all ages. Preventing dementia is critical; once you start the decline from cognitive impairment to mild and eventually severe dementia, there is no known cure."