Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) found that patients who concurrently suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease and who were taking Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARB’s) had a 35-40% lower chance of developing the disease than patients who weren’t taking ARB’s. A description of Angiotensin and its link to high blood pressure can be found below. This data was found when researching records from the Decision Support System Database of the U.S. Department of Health System Veterans Affairs, who have records on over 5 million people. Specifically, they examined people who were comparable in health status in two groups: those who were taking ARB’s and those who were not. The study doesn’t mention whether these patients had a familial history of Alzheimer’s Disease. The also looked at patients who were already suffering from the disease and found these people had a 45% less chance of developing delirium, being admitted to nursing homes or dying prematurely.
This research does look promising, but I would be interested to know if there is a link between high blood pressure and a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease. Also, I wonder what effect (if any) taking ARB’s would have on people who didn’t have high blood pressure or who suffered from low blood pressure; would these people be at risk for dying from oxygen starvation?
What is angiotensin? It is a protein that causes a number affects in the body in a complicated physiological cascade reaction. It is the precurser to angiotensin I-IV. Without getting too technical; angiotensin causes your blood vessels to constrict; leaving a narrower channel for blood flow – think about a river getting forced into a narrow channel and the resulting velocity change. Blood vessel constriction leads to an increase in blood pressure; that can lead to vessel damage and heart problems. Angiotensin also stimulates the secretion of Aldosterone from the adrenal cortex (adrenal glands are the little blobs that sit on top of your kidneys). Aldosterone causes your kidneys to conserve salt. Wherever salt stays, water will follow. The more water you have in your blood, the higher your blood pressure. Angiotensin also causes you to be really thirsty, resulting in an increase in water in your body leading to an increase in blood pressure. Angiotensin receptor blockers work by blocking the action of angiotensin.
The image included is a section of the cerebral cortex in your brain with plaque formation starting to occur.
The full version of this press release can be found at Eureka Alert.