Beta Blockers May Cut Alzheimer's Risk

Study finds fewer brain changes in those using blood pressure drugs

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 8, 2013 12:33 AM CST

(Newser) – A class of drugs already widely used to control high blood pressure may also significantly reduce the chances of getting Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study. Researchers found that men who took beta blockers for hypertension had fewer signs of the brain shrinkage and other changes associated with the disease, reports the Los Angeles Times. A parallel study found fewer signs of cognitive decline in elderly men who took the drugs.

"With the number of people with Alzheimer's disease expected to grow significantly as our population ages, it is increasingly important to identify factors that could delay or prevent the disease," the study's lead author says. "These results are exciting, especially since beta-blockers are a common treatment for high blood pressure." But experts say it is too early to recommend beta blockers for treating Alzheimer's. They note that the study did not explain the link, and since it only involved Japanese-American men, it may not be applicable to the wider population, the BBC reports.

A nursing assistant, holds the hand of an elderly man  with Alzheimer's disease at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, Calif.
A nursing assistant, holds the hand of an elderly man with Alzheimer's disease at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, Calif.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
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