MONDAY, June 21, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Blood-brain barrier-crossing renin-angiotensin drugs seem to be associated with better memory recall in seniors, according to a study published online June 21 in Hypertension.

Jean K. Ho, Ph.D., from the University of California Irvine, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis to examine the potential cognitive benefits of blood-brain barrier-crossing renin-angiotensin system drugs relative to their nonpenetrant counterparts. Longitudinal participant data were harmonized from 14 cohorts from six countries, involving a total of 12,849 cognitively normal participants at baseline who had hypertension. Seven cognitive domains were analyzed (attention, executive function, language, verbal memory learning, recall, mental status, and processing speed).

The researchers found that despite their relatively higher vascular risk burden, older adults taking blood-brain barrier-crossing renin-angiotensin drugs exhibited better memory recall during up to three years of follow-up compared with those taking nonpenetrant medications. During the same period, those taking medications that were not blood-brain barrier-penetrant showed better attention, although this result could be partially explained by their lower vascular risk burden.

“Given that current pharmaceutical treatments for dementia have only had modest effects on symptom improvement, modifying risk factors such as hypertension represents a promising line of work toward dementia prevention,” the authors write. “This finding has clear implications for individuals who remain symptom-free, but who may experience later cognitive benefit from simply changing their antihypertensive regimen.”

The study was partially funded by Pfizer Canada and Bayer Incorporated.

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