Some hypertension medicines may reduce memory loss in older adults

June 23, 2021
Some hypertension medicines may reduce memory loss in older adults

Older adults taking blood pressure-lowering medicines for hypertension that cross the blood-brain barrier were noticed to have better memory recall compared to those taking medicines that do not, according to researchers from the University of California, Irvine (UCI). The medicines include angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), calcium channel blockers and diuretics which are different classes of blood pressure-lowering medicines. Some cross the blood-brain barrier and will potentially impact cognitive function, such as reducing the risk of dementia.

In the first meta-analysis from 14 studies of nearly 13,000 adults ages 50 years and older, the hypertension medicines were evaluated for their effects on several cognitive domains, including attention, language, verbal memory, learning and recall. Older adults on the medications that cross the blood-brain barrier had better memory recall and attention for up to 3 years of follow-up, the meta-analysis found.

“These findings represent the most powerful evidence to-date linking brain-penetrant ACE-inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers to better memory. It suggests that people who are being treated for hypertension may be protected from cognitive decline if they [do] take medications that cross the blood-brain barrier,” said Dr. Jean K. Ho, a postdoctoral fellow at the university.

Read also: Experimental drug reverses memory loss in mouse models of Alzheimer’s

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a known risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia in older adults. The current American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology guidelines for treating high blood pressure suggest changes to diet and activity levels to lower blood pressure and adding blood pressure-lowering medication for people with levels of 130/80 mm Hg or higher depending on their risk status – but if blood pressure reaches 140/90 mm Hg, blood pressure-lowering medication is recommended.

[Treatment with blood pressure-lowering medicines has been shown to reduce the cases of mild cognitive impairment in the extensive Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention (SPRINT) Trial, by at least 19%.]

“Hypertension occurs decades prior to the onset of dementia symptoms, affecting blood flow not only in the body but also to the brain,” said Dr. Daniel A. Nation, an associate professor of psychological science in the Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders, UCI. “Treating hypertension is likely to have long-term beneficial effects on brain health and cognitive function later.”

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Category: Education, Features

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