Blood pressure medicine could halt dementia

Trials are underway to assess whether common blood pressure medication can delay the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

The drugs known as ACE inhibitors have already shown they can alter learning, memory and mood, and early studies have shown they may also slow down the onset of dementia.

Professor Paul Gard, the University of Brighton’s Professor of Experimental Therapeutics, is one of a number of scientists whose studies have shown how the medicines can change mental functions. He will discuss progress in this research in his inaugural lecture later this month.

The first-line treatment for high blood pressure or hypertension is the use of ACE inhibitors, including those derived from the venom of poisonous snakes such as vipers, which dilate blood vessels and lower pressure.

It now seems these drugs may become an important weapon in fighting dementia which is one of the biggest challenges to global healthcare and currently affects 35 million people around the world.

And there may be additional benefits to the research. Professor Gard said: “An off-shoot has been to explore whether potential treatments for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease might also be useful in helping children with impaired learning.

“In Europe, approximately one per cent of children suffer with foetal alcohol syndrome, a condition involving learning difficulties associated with excessive alcohol intake by their mothers during pregnancy.

“Research is now being undertaken to investigate whether the use of angiotensin-related treatments (blood pressure medication) by the mother during pregnancy or by the infant soon after birth might be able to prevent the effects of the pre-natal alcohol exposure.”

Professor Gard’s lecture at the university’s Huxley Building in Queensdown School Road, Brighton, at 6.30pm on 28 March, is free and open to the public. To book a seat, register online at or

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