Researchers have found that older adults taking blood pressure-lowering medications known to cross the blood-brain barrier had better memory compared to those taking other types of medicines to treat high blood pressure. The research published (Monday 21 June) is in the scientific journal, Hypertension.
High blood pressure or hypertension in mid-life is a known risk factor of dementia, which affects 850,000 people in the UK. Just like the heart, the brain depends on a good blood supply to work properly and having high blood pressure can put this supply at risk.
What our expert said
Dr Rosa Sancho, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“There are things we can all do to help our brains as we get older. Keeping our blood pressure in check is one factor in our power to control to try and help prevent dementia.
“This new research looked to see whether blood pressure lowering drugs able to pass the blood-brain-barrier – an important structure in the brain – led to a benefit in memory and thinking skills but didn’t necessarily look at dementia. They found that those taking barrier-crossing drugs had a small but not insignificant improvement in memory, while those taking drugs that were not able to cross the barrier displayed better attention skills.
“Millions of people in the UK are prescribed blood pressure medications to support their cardiovascular health. Doctors will prescribe the most appropriate medication for their patients based on their individual circumstances. Anyone who has any concerns about the medications they are taking should speak to their GP.
“Research shows that 40% of dementia cases are linked to factors we may be able to influence, and the best evidence suggests that we can look after our brain by keeping cholesterol levels in check, maintaining a healthy weight, keeping physically and socially active, not smoking and drinking within the recommended limits. At the same time, we must continue to invest in research that can take us closer to a world free of the fear, heartbreak and harm dementia brings.”