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Can antihypertensive help Alzheimer's patients?

Can low blood pressure relief help beat Alzheimer's? So far it is premature for assumption. But research could be a step forward in their efforts to end the great plague of our society: unlimited forgetting. There is reason to hope in a recent study from the Netherlands, whose results in June 2019 in the journal hypertension have been published.

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Nilvadipine can do more than lowering blood pressure

The active substance nilvadipine is actually used for elevated blood pressure (hypertension). However, in one study, he found a good side effect: nilvadipine increased blood flow to the brain memory center by twenty percent compared with placebo. This is so interesting because it is known from previous studies that the blood flow to the brain in Alzheimer's disease is reduced. It is also important: Blood flow to other areas of the brain remains unchanged despite the drugs. Prof. Commenting on the results, Jurgen Claassen of Radboud University in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, said: "This type of high blood pressure treatment promises because it does not seem to suppress blood flow to the brain, the latter would do more harm than good.

Team led by prof. Claassena worked with 44 patients, all of whom suffered from mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. Half of the patients received nilvadipine during the six months and the other half were placebo. Neither respondents (on average 73 years) nor scientists knew who got them.

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At the beginning both groups had to undergo special magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure blood supply to certain parts of the brain. After six months, the investigation was repeated. Researchers found that nilvadipine boosted blood flow to the hippocampus – the brain area that controls our ability to learn and remember – by 20 percent.

Better circulation does not mean (yet) a new weapon for Alzheimer's disease

The study was part of a larger study that included 500 Alzheimer's patients treated with nilvadipine between 2013 and 2015. They can not detect the real benefit of the drug. However, subgroups with mild symptoms showed slower memory loss. The first study did not take into account the cerebral blood flow. That was then done in this study – with the described observations with hope.

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But one thing is certain: just because the blood flow to memory can improve does not mean that Alzheimer's disease can stop.

Professor Claassen also sees this as follows: "We still have to find out whether blood flow improvement can really help slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease, especially in earlier phases."

At the same time, researchers from the Netherlands are not the only ones who believe in the relationship between blood pressure (drugs) and Alzheimer's disease. The British research team is currently investigating whether another drug for hypertension (losartan) may stop the development of Alzheimer's disease. Let's just hope that both science teams follow the right path.