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ARBs 'protect against Alzheimer's'

By Nigel Praities

Angiotensin receptor blockers reduce the incidence and progression of Alzheimer's disease, say US researchers.

The retrospective analysis of data from 6 million patients in the US government Veterans Heath System showed those taking ARBs had up to a 40% lower chance of developing Alzheimer's disease or dementia.

There is a recognised association between hypertension and the development of dementia, but this research, presented this week at the International Conference of Alzheimer's Disease in Chicago – is the first major evidence that ARBs may protect against Alzheimer's disease.

The researchers also concluded ARB use in those who already had Alzheimer's disease may reduce the progression of the disease, with those taking the medications showing a 45% reduced chance of developing delirium.

Professor Benjamin Wolozin, author and professor of pharmacology at Boston University School of Medicine, said the analysis showed ARBs were more effective than any other hypertensive or cardiovascular medication studied.

'For those who already have dementia, use of ARBs might delay deterioration of brain function and help keep patients out of nursing homes,' he said.

Professor Clive Ballard, co-director of the Wolfson Centre for Age Related Diseases and head of research at the Alzheimer's Society, said a clinical trial was now needed to fully test the findings from this analysis.

‘This study highlights that it is becoming increasingly important to investigate anti-hypertension drugs as a potential treatment for dementia, not just a risk factor,' he said.

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