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Blood Pressure Drugs Might Prevent Parkinson's
Date:2/6/2008

Preliminary study finds some benefit from calcium channel blockers

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 6 (HealthDay News) -- People taking calcium channel blockers to control their high blood pressure may find the regimen has a double benefit: Researchers say long-term use of the drugs also might cut the risk of developing Parkinson's disease.

But the findings are far from definitive and not yet ready for prime-time medical practice.

"There are not necessarily direct clinical implications, but the data support previous hypotheses that calcium channel blockers may have neuroprotective effects," said study senior author Christoph R. Meier, a clinical pharmacologist with University Hospital Basel, in Switzerland. "This may stimulate additional clinical and mainly basic research in this area."

The findings were published in the Feb. 6 online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Parkinson's disease is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder affecting at least one million people in the United States and six million people worldwide, according to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. The condition involves the loss of brain cells that produce the chemical dopamine, resulting in movement problems including tremors.

Previous studies with rodents and primates had uncovered a possible "neuroprotective effect" from calcium channel blockers and angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, another class of blood pressure medications, the researchers said.

The new study looked at the effect of calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors, AT II antagonists and beta blockers on the development of Parkinson's disease.

The study involved more than 7,000 men and women in the United Kingdom over the age of 40, half of whom had been diagnosed with Parkinson's and half of whom had not. Almost half the people in each group used blood pressure
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