“Hypertension occurs decades prior to the onset of dementia symptoms, affecting blood flow not only in the body but also to the brain,” Nation said. “Treating hypertension is likely to have long-term beneficial effects on brain health and cognitive function later.”
The analysis involved 14 studies in the United States, Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland and Japan. They involved almost 12,900 adults ages 50 years and older. Results showed older adults who took blood pressure-lowering medicines that cross the blood-brain barrier had better memory recall for up to 3 years compared to those taking medicines that do not cross the blood-brain barrier. This was the case even though the latter had a higher vascular risk. Adults who took hypertension medications that did not cross the blood-brain barrier had better attention for up to 3 years.
“These findings represent the most powerful evidence to-date linking brain-penetrant ACE-inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers to better memory,” said study co-author Jean K. Ho, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Irvine. “It suggests that people who are being treated for hypertension may be protected from cognitive decline if they medications that cross the blood-brain barrier.”
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