Certain ACE Inhibitors Cut Elderly Dementia Risk

Drugs able to cross blood-brain barrier cut mental decline by 50%, study found

SUNDAY, May 6, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Certain types of ACE inhibitor hypertension drugs may help cut the risk of dementia in older adults, say researchers at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

They analyzed data from the long-term Cardiovascular Health Study of almost 5,900 people over age 65 in the United States.

The researchers found that "centrally acting" ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors may help reduce inflammation that might contribute to dementia.

Centrally acting ACE inhibitors are able to cross the blood-brain barrier and reach the brain.

"For older adults who are going to take an ACE inhibitor for blood pressure control, it makes sense for their doctors to prescribe one that goes into the brain," lead researcher Dr. Kaycee Sink, an assistant professor of internal medicine/gerontology, said in a prepared statement.

She and her colleagues found that for each year that people took centrally acting ACE inhibitors, they had a 50 percent lower rate of mental decline than people taking other kinds of hypertension drugs.

Mental decline was measured using the Modified Mini-Mental State Exam, which evaluates memory, language, abstract reasoning and other cognitive functions.

"These results suggest that there is more to treating blood pressure than achieving a goal of 140/80," Sink said. "Which drug you choose for blood pressure can have broader implications. We know that ACE inhibitors protect against heart failure and kidney failure, and now there is evidence that some of them may also protect against dementia."

The study was expected to be presented this weekend at the annual meeting of the American Geriatrics Society, in Seattle.

More information

The American Medical Association has more about dementia.

SOURCE: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, news release, May 5, 2007
Consumer News