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Lowering Blood Pressure, Cholesterol May Not Improve Cognition

Results from a PHRI study show that drugs lowering blood pressure and cholesterol may not slow the decline in thinking and memories in people who take the medications. However, the study, HOPE-3, also found that there was no associated cognitive impairment with the use of statins, says Jackie Bosch, PhD, first author of the paper, Effects of blood pressure and lipid lowering on cognition: Results from the HOPE-3 study, published this week in Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN).

The study involved 1,626 people (average 74 years old) who had a 1% chance of having a heart attack or some other heart-related event during the year. Of the group, 45 percent had high blood pressure. Study participants were randomized to take candesartan (16 mg) plus hydrochlorothiazide (12.5 mg) or placebo, and to rosuvastatin (10 mg) or placebo. They were given thinking and memory tests at the study’s start, then physical checkups every six months, and the tests again at the end of the study six years later.

Bosch added that taking medications for six years may not be long enough to prevent cognitive decline, so longer studies are needed.

A limitation of the study was that participants chose to participate, meaning they may have been healthier and at a lower risk of thinking and memory problems than the average population.

The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and AstraZeneca, which sells versions of the drugs studied.