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Heart drugs could prevent Alzheimer's

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Heart drugs commonly used to treat high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease could delay or prevent Alzheimer’s, said Boston University researchers.

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Mainly focusing on males (98%), the researchers found that angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), which are commonly prescribed heart drugs, are associated with a “striking decrease” in occurrence and progress of dementia.

Patients taking ARBs had up to a 50% lower chance of developing Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. If patients supplemented ARB medication with angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors - another cardiovascular treatment - dementia risk was 55% lower, the study in the British Medical Journal revealed.

Patients already with dementia, who were taking the ARB and ACE inhibitor treatments, had up to a 67% lower chance of being admitted to nursing homes or dying.

Researchers compared records of patients using ARBs with people in similar health but using other medications.

They were allowed access to health records of over five million people through the US Department of Health System Veterans Affairs database.

Professor Benjamin Wolozin from Boston University School of Medicine, said the research is the first to compare risk and progression of dementia “in users of angiotensin receptor blockers compared with users of a drug from the same class (lisinopril) or users of other drugs prescribed for cardiovascular disease”.

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