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A protein that protects against Alzheimer’s is discovered, but heart disease might get you first

Elderly patients are being underprescribed blood pressure- and cholesterol-lowering drugs, BMJ research has concluded, in an elderly patients special digest.

The BBC reports today that researchers from Oxford and Birmingham universities found that drugs prescribing for blood pressure dropped after the age of 85 and after the age of 75 for high cholesterol drugs.

Prescribing of both types of drugs increased every five years after the ages of 40 to 44, the BMJ noted. By the age of 75 statin use had peaked at 29%, falling to 23% after that, the research showed.

The researchers said blood pressure drugs had been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease in the elderly, while there was nothing to suggest statins should not be used.

‘With continuing advances in healthcare, the elderly population is increasing and people are living to an older age. They should... not be ignored.'

In far better news for elderly patients, a protein that protects against Alzheimer's disease has been discovered, the Mail reports

A study of the DNA of almost 2,000 people found that people with a mutated form of the gene were less likely to develop dementia.

The amyloid precursor protein gene makes a chemical called amyloid-beta, which blocks neurons from communicating with one another.

Dr Kari Stefansson, chief executive of Icelandic company deCODE Genetics in Reykjavik, said the rare mutation results in a 40 percent reduction in the formation of these harmful 'plaques'.

The findings, published in Nature, also found dementia free elderly people with the variant have better cognitive function between the age of 80 and 100 than those with the normal version.