MONDAY, Jan. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Taking blood pressure drugs known as beta blockers may reduce the risk of brain changes that can lead to Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, new research suggests.
"Levels of the Alzheimer lesions were about half or less in persons receiving beta blockers, compared with persons whose hypertension was untreated," said study author Dr. Lon White, a researcher at the Pacific Health Research and Education Institute in Honolulu. Beta blockers also appeared to reduce the risk of these brain changes more than other blood pressure medications did.
White added a caution, however. "It would be premature to make any specific recommendations for treatment," he said, such as suggesting people switch to beta blockers only.
Examples of beta blockers are Inderal (propranolol), Tenormin (atenolol) and Lopressor (metoprolol).
"Our findings will need to be examined in other studies before such recommendations could be made," White said.
The research does support the idea that treating high blood pressure in midlife must be part of the way to prevent late-life cognitive impairment and dementia, he said.
The study is scheduled to be presented in March at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in San Diego.
One in eight older American adults has Alzheimer's, a progressive brain disease, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Alzheimer's and other types of dementia affect memory, thinking and behavior.
In the study, White and colleagues evaluated the autopsies of 774 men who were enrolled in the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study, a community-based study of Japanese-American men who were between the ages of 71 to 93 when the study began. The study was conducted from 1991 through 2012.
Of the men who were autopsied, 610 had had high blood pressure or had been treated with high blood pressure drugs. The men had taken f
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