Blood pressure lowering drugs against Alzheimer’s disease?

The blood pressure medication Nilvadipin increases cerebral blood flow in people with Alzheimer’s disease, as a recent clinical study shows. From previous studies we know that the blood flow to the brain decreases in Alzheimer’s disease. Whether the increase in cerebral blood flow by Nilvadipin brings an improvement of Alzheimer’s symptoms is still unclear.

Nilvadipin increased blood flow to the memory and learning center of the brain compared to a Placebo in order to twenty percent. The blood flow in other regions of the brain, however, was in both groups the same. Prof. Dr. Jurgen Claassen from the Radboud University in Nijmegen, explains: "This treatment of high blood pressure is promising, since it does not seem to reduce the blood flow to the brain, causing more damage than Benefit could cause."

Previous studies had already shown that treatment of hypertension can reduce the risk of dementia. The authors believe that positive effects on blood flow in the brain could explain part of this effect.

In order to investigate the impact of the increase in blood flow to the brain and mental performance reliable, the experimental group, however, is too small and the study duration to short: "We need to find out in the future, whether the improvement of the blood flow can be used as a supportive treatment for slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, particularly in the earlier Krankheitsstadien", so Claassen.

For the study, 500 persons were considered in detail, in which first no Use of Nilvadipin observed was. Only a small part, there was evidence of a slower loss of memory. However, the cerebral blood flow was not investigated. In a further study 44 participants received six months of either Nilvadipin, or a Placebo. At the beginning and after six months the blood flow measured to certain regions of the brain using a special and unique magnetic resonance imaging.