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Dementia risk cut by beta-blockers

8 January 2013

Dementia risk cut by beta-blockers

Results have shown that men taking beta-blockers, usually used to treat high blood pressure, were less likely to have brain changes indicative of dementia compared to those not taking the drugs.

The study was carried out on 774 Japanese-American men, 610 of which were being treated for high blood pressure or had high blood pressure.  The results showed that those taking beta-blockers and other medications had fewer brain abnormalities than those not being treated.  However, those taking only beta-blockers had even fewer abnormalities, such as brain shrinkage and damaged brain tissue.

Study author Dr Lon White said, “With the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease expected to grow significantly as our population ages, it is increasingly important to identify factors that could delay or prevent the disease.  These results are exciting, especially since beta-blockers are a common treatment for high blood pressure.”

Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said, “Hypertension is a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s and other causes of dementia, and keeping high blood pressure in check could be important for preventing these diseases.  This study suggests a link between the use of beta-blockers and fewer signs of dementia, but as the results of this study have yet to be published in full, it’s not clear what caused this link. It’s important to note that this study only looked at Japanese-American men, and these results may not be applicable to the wider population”

He added, “With 820,000 people affected by dementia in the UK, and that number increasing, we urgently need to find ways to prevent the diseases that cause it – that requires a massive investment in research.”