Beta-blockers may reduce risk for dementia in some patients, study finds

CLEVELAND - People taking blood pressure drugs called beta blockers may be less likely to develop signs of Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia, according to a recent medical study.

Researchers at the Pacific Health Research and Education Institute in Honolulu, Hawaii, reviewed the autopsy results of nearly 800 Japanese-American men. Results show those who received beta blockers as their only blood pressure medication had fewer abnormalities in their brains compared to those who had not been treated for their hypertension, or who had received other blood pressure medications.

Dr. Ronan Factora did not take part in the study, but treats Alzheimer's patients at the Cleveland Clinic.

"Treating high blood pressure is going to reduce your risk of developing dementia. That's key in this study, but use of beta-blockers in your blood pressure regimen can infer some additional benefit," Factora said.

Researchers said the findings could lead to a way to slow or prevent Alzheimer's disease.

"There might be something that the beta blockers do that may also help to reduce the risk of dementia that is separate from the blood pressure effects, but that requires some additional study," Factora said.

Factora says that although the results are promising, you should hold off on changing your medication.

"One thing to keep in mind is that this study was done in Japanese-Americans and we really would need a larger study including the whole population to see if these benefits are unique to this class of medications, so I don't think it makes people run out and say ‘Hey I want to change my blood pressure medication to this class," Factora said.

The findings will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting. Click here to learn more about the study.

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