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Blood pressure drugs may slow deterioration of Alzheimer's

ST. PAUL, Minn. Certain blood pressure drugs may slow the deterioration of Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published in the October 12 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Called angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, or ACE inhibitors, the drugs are used to treat high blood pressure. Only ACE inhibitors that can penetrate the blood-brain barrier were shown to have the effect on Alzheimer's. The blood-brain barrier is a natural protective mechanism that shields the brain from foreign substances.

The study involved 162 people in Japan living in long-term care facilities with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease and high blood pressure. The participants were divided into three groups. For one year, each group received either a brain-penetrating ACE inhibitor, a non-brain-penetrating ACE inhibitor, or another type of blood pressure drug, called a calcium channel blocker. Those in the brain-penetrating ACE inhibitor groups received one of two drugs perindopril or captopril.

The participants' thinking and memory skills were tested at the beginning of the study and again at the end. The thinking and memory skills of those who took the brain-penetrating ACE inhibitors declined only slightly over the year. The skills of those who took the other drugs declined significantly.

At the beginning of the study, the participants had an average score of about 20 on the exam. The scores of those on brain-penetrating ACE inhibitors declined by an average of .6 points. The scores of those on non-brain-penetrating ACE inhibitors declined by an average of 4.6 points. The average decline was 4.9 points for those on calcium channel blockers.

"These brain-penetrating ACE inhibitors might have benefits not only for the prevention but also for the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer's," said study author Takashi Ohrui, MD, of Tohoku University School of Medicine in Sendai, Japan.
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Contact: Marilee Reu
mreu@aan.com
651-695-2789
American Academy of Neurology
11-Oct-2004


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