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Approved Research

Exploring associations between antihypertensive drugs and dementia-related outcomes over time

Principal Investigator: Dr Walter Swardfager
Approved Research ID: 56052
Approval date: September 2nd 2020

Lay summary

Life expectancies have increased around the world, and this means that people have more time to develop problems with their brain. These problems can include dementia, the most common type of which is caused by Alzheimer's disease. Dementia currently affects millions of people around the world; however, at the moment, there are no medications that can cure the symptoms of dementia, despite billions of dollars being spent on research and development.

There are several factors which are known to increase the likelihood of developing dementia, including high blood pressure, which may be targeted using existing medications. Individuals with high blood pressure may have damaged blood vessels, which can lead to inadequate delivery of oxygen to the brain, alongside many related issues. Drugs used to treat high blood pressure include the angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-Is), beta blockers (BBs), calcium channel blockers (CCBs) and diuretics. These drugs all work differently in order to lower blood pressure.  Evidence is showing that these drugs - especially ARBs - may be helpful to patients who have dementia, or may be at risk for dementia, through ways that may not directly relate to blood pressure control. For example, these drugs may lower the levels of amyloid-beta (AB), a harmful protein that builds up in the brain of people with Alzheimer's disease. Whether or not a specific type of blood pressure medication is more helpful than another in preventing and managing dementia is a very important question that remains to be answered.

We will accomplish this by looking at people with normal brain function, mild-to-moderate brain issues, and various forms of dementia. We will look back at their medication use over time, and see which types of medications might be related to better functioning and results. This research will enable doctors and medical professionals around the world to make informed decisions about what type of medication someone with these conditions might need to use.