Alzheimer's and Hypertension

           (Picture from www.alzheimers.net)

    Studies show that controlling blood pressure can help lower Alzheimer's risk. According to findings by researchers at Johns Hopkins, people who took commonly prescribed blood pressure medications were half as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as those who didn’t. "Research showed that people with hypertension were more likely to have the biomarkers of Alzheimer’s, in their spinal fluid." {Johnshopkinsmedicine.org}  

    What's the link? High blood pressure can damage small blood vessels, in the brain. This can affect parts of the brain responsible for thinking and memory.  How can controlling blood pressure lower the risk? Medications used to lower blood pressure may be the answer. "The study by Johns Hopkins that was published in Neurology, confirmed earlier work from Johns Hopkins researchers that found the use of potassium-sparing diuretics reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s nearly 75 percent, while people who took any type of antihypertensive medication lowered their risk by about a third. "What we found was that if you didn’t have Alzheimer’s and you were taking blood pressure medication, you were somewhat less likely to develop dementia. And if you had dementia from Alzheimer’s disease and you took certain antihypertensives, the disease was less likely to progress,” explains Constantine Lyketsos, M.D., director of the Memory and Alzheimer’s Treatment Center at Johns Hopkins. “It’s not clear if the connection comes from managing the blood pressure better or if the particular drugs might have properties that interfere with other processes relating to Alzheimer’s.” {johnshopkinsmedicine.org}

     According to alzheimers.net studies have linked hypertension in people already genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s, to an increased development of amyloid beta plaque, a hallmark characteristic of the disease. The study took a look at the relationship between hypertension and Alzheimer’s and found that for "people who are genetically predisposed to the disease and carry the ApoE4 gene,  high blood pressure was associated  with higher leverld of amyoid-beta plaques in the brain." {Alzheimers.net} More than  1,000 adults from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative were studied. They were divided into four groups: 1.)people who had the ApoE4 gene, 2.) people with high blood pressure, 3.)people with both the ApoE4 gene and people with high blood pressure, and then 4.)a control group of people with had neither risk factor. With the use of imaging technology, researchers  found that the participants in the group with both the ApoE4 gene and hypertension had more amyloid-beta plaques than the other groups.

      Karen Rodrigue, an assistant professor of behavioral and brain sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas states that by keeping good vascular health the brain changes associated with Alzheimer's may be limited or delayed.  Do you have a loved one with Alzheimer's and hypertension? What do you think of the correlation between the two? Leave your comments.

   

 


1 comment

  • This is an excellent article! Thank you for writing about these very important studies. I wonder why the potassium sparing diuretics were more affective than other types of bp lowering medications?

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