World Health Organization (WHO) data estimates that one billion people around the globe have hypertension and, by 2025, the number can rise to 1.5 billion.1,2
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a condition that affects the cognitive part of the brain and is the most common form of dementia. AD constitutes around 38% of all dementia cases affecting people over 85 years, and it cannot be prevented, slowed or cured. High blood pressure is considered a modifiable risk factor for AD. Other risk factors associated with it are hypercholesterolemia, diabetes mellitus and atherosclerosis. However, there may exists an association between blood pressure-lowering agents and the progression of AD.1,3
Age is also one of the major risk factors for Alzheimer’s, which typically affects people over 65 years of age. One-sixth of the people over 80 develop dementia, of which many have Alzheimer’s. Thus, the development of AD and age are positively correlated. However, the exact cause of AD is still unknown.4
The effect of anti-hypertensive medications on slowing down Alzheimer’s Disease
A study conducted by Zoe Arvanitakis et al. in August 2018 found that raised blood pressure reduces the supply of blood to the brain and increases the level of markers for AD.5
It has been observed that hypertension is associated with memory, attention and processing speed deficits, similar to AD. A study conducted to find the association between hypertension and AD reported that hypertension accelerates the development of AD-like changes in the brain in the regions associated with memory and learning in mice.6
Blood pressure-lowering agents from classes like angiotensin II receptor blockers, beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting–enzyme inhibitors, calcium channel blockers and diuretics were included in the study. The result showed a decrease in AD risk by 16% among those on anti-hypertensive medications in comparison to those who were not on any anti-hypertensive medications.7 No superiority was identified among blood pressure-lowering agents.7
This study concluded that lowering the blood pressure can significantly slow the decline in cognitive function and slow down the progression of AD.7,8
To delay Alzheimer’s, it is not only necessary to take care of your physical health, but also take the appropriate medications on a regular basis.
- Alzheimers.Net [Internet]. [Cited 2019 Dec 17]. Available from: https://www.alzheimers.net/resources/alzheimers-statistics/.
- Chockalingam A. Impact of world hypertension day. Can J Cardiol. 2007;23(7):517-519. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2650754/.
- Cifuentes D, Pasteur-Rousseau A, Levy BI, Merkulova-Rainon T, Kubis N (2016). Targeting hypertension to manage Alzheimer’s disease: rational and promise. J Alzheimers Dis Parkinsonism 6:228. doi:10.4172/2161-0460.1000228. Available from: https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/targeting-hypertension-to-manage-alzheimers-disease-rational-andpromise-2161-0460-1000228.php?aid=72302.
- Who Gets Alzheimers disease? [Internet] [Cited 2019 Dec 17]. Available from: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-dementia/types-dementia/who-gets-alzheimers-disease.
- Arvanitakis Z, Capuano AW, Lamar M, Shah RC, Barnes LL, Bennett DA, et al. Late-life blood pressure association with cerebrovascular and Alzheimer disease pathology. Neurology. 2018 Aug;91(6):e517-e525. DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000005951. Available from: https://n.neurology.org/content/91/6/e517.
- Cifuentes D, Poittevin M, Dere E, Broquères-You D, Bonnin P, Benessiano J, et al. Hypertension Accelerates the Progression of Alzheimer-Like Pathology in a Mouse Model of the Disease. Hypertension. 2015 Jan;65(1):218-24. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.114.04139.
- Ding J, Davis-Plourde KL, Sedaghat S, Tully PJ, Wang W, Phillips C et al. Antihypertensive medications and risk for incident dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: a meta-analysis of individual participant data from prospective cohort studies. The Lancet Neurology. 2019;19(1):61-70. Available from https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(19)30393-X/fulltext.
- Blood pressure treatment, incident dementia and Alzheimer disease: a meta-analysis. NEJM Journal Watch. Available from: https://www.jwatch.org/na50379/2019/12/04/blood-pressure-treatment-incident-dementia-and-alzheimer.