A common drug prescribed to treat high blood pressure could be used as the first treatment for vascular dementia, the most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. Costing as little as 4 pence per day, a 10 mg dose of amlodipine has shown to improve memory and cognitive health in those suffering with symptoms of vascular dementia.
A £2.25 million clinical trial to test the effectiveness of amlodipine has been announced by the Alzheimer’s Society and the British Heart Foundation. The two year trial run jointly by the School of Medicine at Queen’s University Belfast and Bristol University’s School of Clinical Sciences will recruit 600 adults with vascular dementia.
Amlodipine is used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) and to prevent angina (chest pain). In its current form as drug to treat high blood pressure, the drug works by relaxing blood vessels and allowing blood to circulate more freely in the body. Lowering blood pressure, the efficiency of the heart is improved and chest pain associated with angina is prevented.
In its proposed use in treating vascular dementia, amlodopine is thought to protect brain cells from damage caused by poor blood supply to the brain. Professor Peter Passmore, said:
Vascular dementia is a very common disease and to date no major trial has been successful in developing an effective treatment for this disease. We hope, using evidence from previous research, and by trialling the drug amlodipine we may get a step closer to improving the outcomes of patients with vascular dementia in the next decade.”
Already licensed and known to be safe to use, amlodipine costs the NHS as little as £1.07 a month. The drug could be used as a treatment for vascular dementia as soon as 2020.
Vascular dementia is caused by problems with the blood supply to the brain and affects about 150,000 people in the UK. Those with heart conditions, high cholesterol and diabetes are especially at risk, and it can be triggered by a stroke. There are currently no available treatments for vascular dementia yet fewer clinical trials exist for the condition than there are currently for hay fever.
Professor Peter Weissberg, Medical Director at the BHF, added:
The 2.3 million people living with coronary heart disease in the UK are at increased risk of developing vascular dementia. Unfortunately, as yet, there are no effective treatments for this devastating condition.
Bristol Press Release: Blood Pressure Drug Could Double Up as First Treatment for Common Form of Dementia
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