In a study led by the American Heart Association, the blood pressure drug nilvadipine (a calcium channel blocker) was found to increase blood flow to the brains memory and learning center in individuals with Alzheimer's disease without adverse effects to other regions of the brain. The study was published in the journal Hypertension and indicates that a decrease in cerebral blood flow in patients with Alzheimer's can be reversed in some regions.
Alzheimer disease is a form of dementia with a risk that increases with age. Causes for Alzheimer disease still remain unknown but earlier studies have shown that blood flow to the brain declines in the early stages of Alzheimer disease. Other studies implied that possible high blood pressure treatment may reduce the risk of dementia possibly because of the beneficial effects on brain blood flow.
"This high blood pressure treatment holds promise as it doesn't appear to decrease blood flow to the brain, which could cause more harm than benefit," said study lead author Jurgen Claassen, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor at Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. "Even though no medical treatment is without risk, getting treatment for high blood pressure could be important to maintain brain health in patients with Alzheimer's disease."
Learn more about Alzheimer Disease:
"In the future, we need to find out whether the improvement in blood flow, especially in the hippocampus, can be used as a supportive treatment to slow down progression of Alzheimer's disease, especially in earlier stages of disease," Claassen said.
The study was the first to utilize MRI technique to observe the effects of treatment on cerebral blood flow.
Source: American Heart Association