Beta blockers may avert dementia

A new study suggests that blood pressure drugs, beta blockers in particular, can protect brain against changes linked to Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.

There is a link between the use of all types of high blood pressure treatments and fewer signs of dementia, according to preliminary data presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in San Diego on January 7, 2013.

Researchers analyzed the brains of 774 elderly Japanese-American men after their death who had taken part in the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study from 1991 to 2012.

They studied 610 men who had high blood pressure and were being treated for high blood pressure with different prescribed medicines.

The study also looked at the relationship between brain lesions at autopsy with beta-blocker treatment compared with other antihypertensive drugs, according to Dr. Lon White of the Pacific Health Research and Education Institute in Honolulu and colleagues.

Some 15 percent of men had taken beta blockers alone and 18 percent had received beta blockers along with another high blood pressure medication while the rest had been given other blood pressure drugs.

The study revealed that all types of high blood pressure and hypertension medicines were effective in protecting the brain against abnormalities, though beta-blockers alone were superior to other forms of treatment.

The result indicated that those men who had received beta blockers as their only blood pressure drug had less brain atrophy or other abnormalities compared with those who had not been treated, or those who had been given other high blood pressure medicines.