This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Lowering BP slows Alzheimer's progress

Treating high blood pressure may help to slow cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer's disease, US re-search suggests.

Hypertension, angina and atrial fibrillation were all found to be linked to a faster rate of decline in a three-year study of 135 patients with Alzheimer's disease.

High blood pressure was the most important factor with twice the rate of memory loss in patients with the condition.

And a history of treatment with antihypertensives was associated with slower cognitive decline, the study in this month's Neurology reported.

The researchers from John Hopkins University School of Medicine said the results suggested strategies for slowing the progression of people newly diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

However, they also found that a history of diabetes was associated with a slower decline which they said seemed counterintuitive and warranted further research.

At the beginning of the study, two-third of the participants had one or more of the vascular co-morbidities, including irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, chest pains, coronary artery bypass surgery, heart attack, diabetes, use of medications to treat high blood pressure, and stroke.

Study leader, Dr Michelle Mielke, assistant professor of psychiatry said: ‘The good news is that vascular factors can be modified.

‘Many studies suggest that vascular factors are associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease; these findings suggest that vascular factors also affect rate of cognitive and functional decline after a diagnosis and further research is clearly war-ranted.'

She added that antihypertensives may be particularly important in slowing decline once a person had been diag-nosed with Alzheimer's

Dr Stewart Findlay, a GP in Bishop Auckland, County Durham and treasurer of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society said the findings highlighted the fact that GPs need to treat the whole person.

‘It shows you're doing more than just treating hypertension.

‘When you're treating the disease it's not just about the symptom – improving blood pressure control, improving management of atrial fibrillation will help in many other areas.'

BP wrist

Rate this article 

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Have your say