Whoa: New Study Shows Blood-Pressure Drugs May Help Slow Dementia

If your doctor has you on an ACE inhibitor to combat high blood pressure, you can thank her for a side effect: British researchers have now shown these drugs slow dementia down—and can even reverse it. According to a report in BMJ Open, researchers studied cognitive decline in 361 patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, or both conditions. Of those patients, 85 were taking ACE inhibitors. Studies at six-month intervals showed a “small but significant” decrease in the rate of decline over that period for those on the drugs; for a subgroup of patients who were prescribed ACE inhibitors at the start of the study, cognitive scores actually improved.

The authors of the study suggest these new patients might be more likely to take their newly prescribed medication, or that the drugs might improve cognitive performance by increasing blood flow to the brain.

Though scientists have previously shown that blood pressure medications might be useful in treating dementia, the study provides the first evidence that their use can actually reverse cognitive decline.