Dementia may be helped by blood pressure drug

A new Canadian and Irish study has identified dementia patients taking certain types of ACE inhibitors (a common blood pressure medication) over a six month period experience slower rates of mental decline.1

People who were already taking the drugs were examined alongside those who weren't within the study and also alongside newly prescribed patients. After six months the new patients were found to have experienced a slight improvement in their mental capabilities.

Centrally active ACE inhibitors (CACE-Is), one of numerous groups of medications regularly prescribed to reduce high blood pressure, were examined by the study. These can potentially affect blood pressure and blood flow inside your brain, as they can cross the barrier between blood circulation and the brain itself.

Two Canadian memory clinics collected and retained records of 1,749 people between 1999 and 2010. The researchers studied information including age, education, diagnosis, medications taken, blood pressure and gender. Their mental ability was also tested by two standard screenings which assessed their cognitive function.

A significant difference in cognitive decline rate between those patients taking the drugs and those who were not was found by the researchers.

Any potential application of ACE inhibitors as a treatment for dementia is still some distance away but these initial results show promise which justifies further research in this important mental health area.


1. Gao Y, O'Caoimh R, Healy L, et al. Effects of centrally acting ACE inhibitors on the rate of cognitive decline in dementia (PDF, 302kb). BMJ Open. Published online July 2 2013