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Possible Link Between Beta Blockers and Lowered Risk of Dementia

If you take beta blockers to lower your blood pressure, they could also help to reduce your risk of demetia.

According to a new study released by the American Academy of Neurology, people taking beta blockers were less likely to have less cognitive impairment than those that did not. Beta blockers are a class of drug used to treat conditions such as high blood pressure, glaucoma, and migraines. Beta blockers cause the heart to beat slower to reduce blood pressure. They also open up blood vessels to increase blood flow.

An article on CNN.com explained that over 21 years, 774 Japanese-American men between the ages of 71 and 93 took part in the study. Of those, 610 had hypertension or were taking medication to treat high blood pressure. Of those treated, 15% took only beta blockers, 18% received a beta blocker and another blood pressure medicine, and the remaining men didn’t take any beta blocker.

After their deaths, autopsies were peformed on the men in the study. The autopsies found that those on beta blockers had significantly fewer brain abnormalities. They also had fewer Alzheimer’s brain lesions and less brain atrophy than other study participants.

Although the findings are still preliminary, it does lean toward the importance of maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. “We know that there are connections between brain health and heart health. So if you have heart problems, you should have them diagnosed and treated because there may be benefits for later life brain health,” said neuroscientist Dr. Heather Snyder, director of medical and scientific operations at the Alzheimer’s Association.

The study is also important since those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease are expected to grow significantly as our populations ages. Anything that we can do to identify factors that might delay or prevent the disease can be keys to defeating it.