Blood pressure drug offers hope of first vascular dementia treatment

3 December 2013        

Category: Survival and support

Man taking medication

We're co-funding a groundbreaking clinical trial of a common blood pressure medicine that could become the first ever treatment for vascular dementia, if the trial is positive.

The clinical trial will cost £2.25 million and last for two years – we're funding half of that cost alongside Alzheimer’s Society.

What is vascular dementia?

Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer's disease. There are currently no available treatments for vascular dementia.

It is caused by problems with the blood supply to the brain and affects about 150,000 people in the UK. People with coronary heart disease or risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol and diabetes, are especially at risk. It can also be triggered by a stroke.

High blood pressure, which amlodopine is used to treat, is a major risk factor for vascular dementia. Researchers think the drug might work by protecting brain cells from damage when blood supply to the brain is poor.

Top research in Northern Ireland

Experts based at the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland will recruit nearly 600 people with vascular dementia and test the drug’s potential as a treatment for their condition.

The researchers, led by Professor Peter Passmore, hope to show that 10mg a day of amlodipine can significantly improve memory and cognitive health. Since the medicine has been proven safe and effective for treating high blood pressure it could become a treatment sooner than if it were an entirely new drug.

Working with other charities

Professor Peter Weissberg, our Medical Director said:

The BHF and Alzheimer’s Society have joined forces to fund this definitive study.

“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.

“Amlodipine is a widely prescribed, blood pressure lowering treatment that has shown some promising effects in vascular dementia. The BHF and Alzheimer’s Society have joined forces to fund this definitive study. If positive, it would pave the way for an affordable treatment for vascular dementia in the near future.”

Find out more and donate

To find out more about the trial, including how to volunteer to be on it, visit the Alzheimer's Society website here.

We receive no funding from the Government or the pharmaceutical industry and can only fund research like this with your support.