A study reported in the on-line editionof Archives of Neurology found thatsome blood pressure medicationsseem to reduce the risk of developingAlzheimer's disease (AD). Data werecollected from 1995 to 1998 on almost3300 elderly Utah residents. Amongthose in the study, more than 1500used blood pressure medications. By1998, 104 of the participants haddeveloped AD. Researchers found asignificant difference in AD riskbetween those who were taking antihypertensivesand those who werenot. They noticed the biggest differenceamong those taking potassiumsparingdiuretics, which were associatedwith a 70% risk reduction. Calciumchannel blockers reduced AD risk byup to 50%, whereas other blood pressuremedications had little effect.Study coauthor Peter P. Zandi, PhD,assistant professor at Johns HopkinsUniversity's Bloomberg School ofPublic Health, said that it is not clearwhy some antihypertensives reduceAD risk and others do not. He suggestedthat there may be something specialabout calcium-channel blockersand potassium blockers besides theireffect on blood pressure. Dr. Zandi,however, cautioned people againstchanging their blood pressure medicationbased on this study's findings.Further clinical trials are needed toexplore these results.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medicalwriter based in Wakefield, RI.