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Beta Blockers May Reduce Dementia Risk

Posted on January 08 2013

Beta blockers are used for combating hypertension and reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke. Beta blockers are also showing effectiveness at reducing the risk of dementia development. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a catalyst for a number of health problems. In addition to producing heart disease and strokes, high blood pressure can also excel the risk for the development of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Vascular dementia is caused by low blood-flow to the brain which hinders oxygen supply, causing cell death. Vascular dementia is the second leading cause of dementia behind Alzheimer’s disease. A new study followed 774 Japanese-American men being treated for high blood pressure. Participants in the study were all prescribed medications to accommodate their individual blood pressure needs. While all-medications showed a positive effect on lessening dementia risk, in comparison to no hypertension treatment at all, Beta blockers showed the greatest results. Through autopsies, researchers were able to note significant differences in brain ailments common with dementia. Researchers found fewer microinfarcts, which are physical signs of small strokes on the brain’s surface; less amyloid plaques and tangles that are physical signs of Alzheimer’s disease, and less brain atrophy. While the initial results are positive, researchers say that much more study is needed. Though several studies have been done comparing blood pressure medications to the risk of dementia in men, scientists would like to see future studies conducted on larger populations, women, and different races. However, if past studies are any indication of the benefits of hypertension medications, most patients on any type of these medications show fewer physical signs of brain impairment. The report on hypertension medication is a good sign in a troubling time where dementia cases, especially Alzheimer’s, are expected to rise exponentially as the country ages. With hope, new findings can be that will be applied to either slow down or prevent the development of further dementia cases. Sources: BBC News - Health - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20932121 MedPage Today - http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/AAN/36743 USA Today - Health & Wellness - http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/01/07/hypertension-dementia-blood-pressure/1810369/

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