Saturday, August 2, 2008

Common Rx Drug May Prevent Alzheimer's

If you're taking prescription medicine to control your blood pressure, those little pills may be doing more than that. They may also prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

HealthDay News reports that a research team from the Boston University School of Medicine analyzed U.S. government data and concluded that people who take angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) for hypertension are 35 percent to 40 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia than people who don't take the drugs. In addition, those who have Alzheimer's disease or dementia and take ARBs are 45 percent less likely to develop delirium, to be admitted to nursing homes or to die.

"For those who already have dementia, use of ARBs might delay deterioration of brain function and help keep patients out of nursing homes," Dr. Benjamin Wolozin, a professor of pharmacology, said in a BU news release. "The study is particularly interesting, because we compared the effects of ARBs to other medications used for treating blood pressure or cardiovascular disease. This suggests that ARBs are more effective than other blood pressure and cardiovascular medications for preventing Alzheimer's disease or dementia."

It's not clear, but the Boston University team suspects ARBs help prevent nerve cell injury from blood vessel damage or help promote nerve recovery after blood vessel damage. Such damage is thought to reduce the brain's capacity and thus causes dementia. If blood vessel damage can be reduced, then it logically follows that the progression of dementia could be prevented or slowed. The study findings were presented on July 27 at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Chicago.


"It is as if I have lost myself," described a client of her state of being to the psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer 100 years ago. Today, as the number of old people is constantly growing, more and more people are affected by Alzheimer's disease.

This book is an artistic approach to the topic of Alzheimer's disease. Many of the images are portraits, a classical way to capture an individual's personality. The soft colors and square shapes of the photographs create a striking esthetic without denying that the people shown are continually losing their individuality. Texts and images are a plea to the individual and to society as a whole to get involved with people suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Ribbat is visiting Professor of American Studies at the University of Bonn. Visiting Fulbright Scholar at the Cooper Union, New York (1997/98), visiting Scholar at the University of North Carolina (2000), Chapel Hill, Ansel Adams research scholar at the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona. Teaching interests: American fiction, photography and visual culture, cultural history, urban studies and architecture.