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Alzheimer's Disease Risk Reduced By Blood Pressure Medicine - Hydrochlorothiazide (HCT) Potassium Sparing Diuretics and Beta Blockers May Prevent Disease

March 14th 2006

Alzheimer's Disease Risk Reduced By Blood Pressure Medicine - Hydrochlorothiazide (HCT) 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 developed AD. 

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 2006.

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 pathogenesis."

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. 

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