Washington, July 23 (ANI): A class of blood pressure drugs, called angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, could protect older adults against dementia and other impairments in cognitive function, according to a new study.
The study by Wake Forest University School of Medicine has suggested that specifically those types of ACE inhibitors that affect the brain by crossing the blood-brain barrier could reduce inflammation that leads to the development of Alzheimer's disease, a major cause of dementia.
"High blood pressure is an important risk factor for Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia. Our study found that all blood pressure medications may not be equal when it comes to reducing the risk of dementia in patients with hypertension," said Dr. Kaycee Sink, lead author of the study.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a major contributor to the development of all types of dementia, many of which are treated with ACE inhibitors.
Some ACE inhibitors are known as "centrally-acting" because they can cross the blood-brain barrier- a specialized system of tiny blood vessels that protects the brain from harmful substances in the blood stream-that include captropril, fosinopril, perindopril, ramipril and trandolapril.
In the study, the researchers analysed data from the Cardiovascular Health Study, a long-term study of cardiovascular risk factors that involved 5,888 people over 65 years old.
The researchers focussed on1,074 study participants who were free of dementia when they entered the study and who were being treated for hypertension.
They evaluated whether exposure to ACE inhibitors in general - and to the centrally active versus non-centrally active drugs - was related to dementia development and cognitive decline.
The researchers found no association between exposure to ACE inhibitors as a class and the risk of dementia as compared to other classes of anti-hypertensive drugs.
However, there was a significant cognitive benefit, seen in those individuals treated with the centrally active ACE inhibitors specifically.
The study found a link between taking centrally active ACE inhibitors and lower rates of mental decline as measured by the Modified Mini-Mental State Exam-a test that evaluates memory, language, abstract reasoning and other cognitive functions.
The research showed that participants who were exposed to ACE inhibitors that cross the blood-brain barrier saw an average 65 percent less cognitive decline per year of exposure compared to participants taking other blood pressure medications.
"ACE inhibitors have been shown to be beneficial to the heart and kidneys, and this study gives evidence that they may also be beneficial to the brain-at least the ones that are able to get into the brain," said Sink.
The study has been published in the current issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. (ANI)