Blood pressure medication slows Alzheimer’s progression, suggests research

Every 67 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the country, and is the only cause of death among the top 10 in America that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed. Looking at the severity of the disease, a recent study surely gives hope to the millions of Alzheimer’s patients.

Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have suggested that an FDA-approved blood pressure drug can be used for early treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. According to the research published online in the journal Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy, drug candesartan – sold as Atacand – and other angiotensin (peptide hormone) receptor blockers (ARBs) can be potential treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Senior author Dr. Juan Saavedra of GUMC said in a statement, “Our findings make sense in many ways. Hypertension reduces blood flow throughout the body and brain and is a risk factor of Alzheimer’s disease.” ARBs belong to a class of medications for the treatment of high blood pressure. The scientists discovered that candesartan checked glutamate-induced neuronal death, including changes in amyloid metabolism, a specialty of Alzheimer’s disease.

According to a report on, Saavedra said, “We hypothesize that candesartan, or other members of the ARB group, may not only slow progression of Alzheimer’s but also prevent or delay its development.”

Relation between hypertension and Alzheimer’s

High blood pressure affects small blood vessels in the brain, including those that are related to thinking and memory. Previous studies have found that high blood pressure by midlife increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later.

So, according to some scientists, the medication used to regulate blood pressure can also help to reduce Alzheimer’s risk. According to a report on, previous studies have shown a relation between hypertensive patients who use ARBs and delayed Alzheimer’s onset.

Another study conducted at the Emory University School of Medicine in 2015 found that the patients of hypertension who were on ARB medication and demonstrated early thinking and memory issues, had less chance of developing Alzheimer’s. The results were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2015 in Washington, D.C.

“All of these blood pressure medications have been available for decades. They’re all FDA-approved. They’re cheap. And blood pressure is easily controlled,” says researcher Whitney Wharton, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the Emory University School of Medicine.

Other facts

A sad aspect of Alzheimer’s disease is that no medicine has been found to treat it. Available medicines only reduce the symptoms or slow down the progress of the disorder.

A study published in the Nature Medicine in December 2015 revealed that antidepressant Rolipram could help in retarding the progression of the problem. The scientists said the drug – originally developed as an antidepressant but was not used due to side effects – can arrest the Alzheimer’s progression by enhancing the brain’s “waste disposal.” The study said drugs during the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease may prevent dementia and decrease brain damage.

Alzheimer’s disease leads to death of brain cells which causes dementia and other neurological problems. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia or memory loss. There are an estimated 5.3 million Americans of all ages with Alzheimer’s disease.

A recent study at the Cambridge University has come up with a simple memory test which could be used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease two years before any signs are visible, according to a report on

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