Risk Reduced By Blood Pressure Medicine -
Potassium Sparing Diuretics and Beta Blockers May Prevent Disease
Various HCT pills
Certain blood pressure lowering medications may reduce the risk of
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), according to a study that will be published in
the May 2006 print issue of Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives
journals. Although hypertension (high blood pressure) may increase the
risk of Alzheimer’s, it is unclear what the exact mechanism is that
reduces the risk.
The link between hypertension and AD prompted research to examine
whether antihypertensive agents (medications prescribed to treat high
blood pressure), could reduce the risk of AD. The drugs include
diuretics and beta blockers. Diuretics make the kidneys excrete water
and salt. Beta blockers slow the heart rate reducing the hearts pumping
action and widening blood vessels.
In 1995 researchers began to screen 3,297 patients over the age of 65 in
Cache County, Utah. They asked the participants about their prescription
and over the counter drug usage including antihypertensive medications.
None of the participants had AD in the beginning.
They finished interviewing participants in 1997, and then began three
year follow-ups in 1998. Of the participants, 1,507 (944 women and 563
men) used antihypertensive medications and 1,790 (975 women, 815 men)
did not. By the second follow-up assessment 104 participants had
The researchers found that patients that were using antihypertensive
medications at the beginning of the study were significantly less likely
to have developed AD than those who were not. This is after the
researchers accounted for gender, age, high cholesterol, diabetes and
other genetic risks.
Some antihypertensive medications usage showed a lower risk than
others. For instance, “potassium-sparing diuretics, which contain
additional components to preserve levels of the mineral in the body,
were related to a more than 70 percent reduction in the risk of AD.”
Hydrochlorothiazide (HCT) is a potassium-sparing diuretics. Beta
blockers and other antihypertensives known as dihydropyridine agents
also had a “slightly protective effect”. The ACE inhibitors did not
appear to have any affect on risk.
More research is needed to determine why these drugs reduce risk. There
could be a link between potassium and this neuralgic disorder. They
point to unpublished findings that suggest that there is a reduced risk
of dementia associated with higher potassium levels.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) “For the first
time, researchers have linked mutations in a gene that regulates how
potassium enters cells to a neurodegenerative disease and to another
disorder that causes mental retardation and coordination problems. The
findings may lead to new ways of treating a broad range of disorders,
including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.” This quote was from
previous research by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders
and Stroke published on the NIH website on February 26th
The authors, Ara S. Khachaturian, Ph.D., of Khachaturian and Associates,
Inc., Potomac, Md. and colleagues, also say that their findings are
consistent with the idea that low potassium is “associated with
oxidative stress, inflammation, platelet aggregation and
vasoconstriction, all of which are possible contributors to AD
Note: Potassium is one of the minerals you do not want to much of.
Some believe too much potassium can lead to irregular heart rhythms.
If you look at your supplements you will find they contain a small
fraction of the days recommended dosage.
By Dan Wilson
Books on the Mind
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