A new study finds that blood pressure medication increases blood flow in the veins leading to the hippocampus, the first part of the brain where Alzheimer’s disease strikes. Although the study isn’t far-reaching and doesn’t prove that this drug helps fight Alzheimer’s, the authors say it is encouraging and further research may show it to help in Alzheimer’s care.
Origins of Alzheimer’s disease
While there are no clear causes or cures for Alzheimer’s disease, there are factors that help deter it as well as treatments that seem to slow it down.
Quality lifestyle choices greatly enhance a person’s chances of warding off the disease – exercise and a healthy diet.
Heart-health helps because the vascular system plays a part in brain health. The brain needs oxygenated blood runs free and clear, feeding it with life and energy. This helps fight against brain degeneration in any form.
A study on drugs and brain health
This study, authored by Dr. Jurgen Claassen, was published in Hypertension magazine. The researchers worked with only 44 patients, so while the data has a lot of potential, it can not be called conclusive.
All 44 patients had either mild or moderate alzheimer’s and were receiving Alzheimer’s care. Some of them were given a blood pressure medication called Nilvadipine, while the rest were given a placebo. They were followed for six months.
The results were that the study group showed a 20% increase in the blood flow to the hippocampus, one of the first parts of the brain that Alzheimer’s attacks.
While these results were encouraging, they only represent a small part of a larger trial that analyzed whether the drug Nilvadipine would help Alzheimer’s patients with thinking and memory. The study showed that it general it did not in fact make a qualitative difference.
However, Dr. Claassen said that it did show improvement in people at the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s, and he recommends further follow up.
Previous studies, future studies
Previous studies have linked the same factors that are connected with heart disease to dementia and memory loss.
Although another study found that efficient management of blood pressure can inhibit the development of mild cognitive deterioration, there is not a tremendous amount of research and understanding of whether blood pressure control can help in treatment in addition to helping in prevention.
The connection between blood pressure and Alzheimer’s care
How would high blood pressure affect dementia? The researchers hypothesize that if high blood pressure causes damage to the vessels that bring blood to the brain, it could further cause some amount of brain damage. Dr. Claassen said that increased blood circulation to the hippocampus, which the blood pressure medication may facilitate, may keep the brain working better, longer. Although this small trial doesn’t prove this, it makes the case for continuing research on the subject.
At the Alameda Center for Rehabilitation in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, we offer excellent Alzheimer’s care for patients who are experiencing this challenge. Our warm and dedicated staff of experts doctors and caring nurses are committed to providing the best care for our patients.