Parkinson's disease

Updated 17 March 2016

BP pills cut Parkinsons risk

A new study has shown people taking calcium channel blockers to treat high blood pressure also appear to be cutting their risk of developing Parkinson's disease.

People taking a widely used group of drugs to treat high blood pressure known as calcium channel blockers also appear to be cutting their risk of developing Parkinson's disease, according to results of a new study.

Animal research and small studies in humans have indicated neuroprotective effects from calcium channel blockers and another class of blood pressure-lowering drugs called angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, Dr Christoph R. Meier, at University Hospital Basel in Switzerland, and his associates note in the report.

How the study was done
Meier's team examined the relationship between several classes of antihypertensive drugs and the risk of being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Their study involved 3 637 patients diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and 3 637 healthy age-matched controls.

Among both groups, nearly half used high blood pressure medications, such as calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II antagonists and beta blockers.

Meier and colleagues found that people who were currently long-term users of calcium channel blockers to treat high blood pressure lowered their risk of Parkinson's disease by 23 percent compared to people who didn't take these drugs. There was no such effect among people taking the other agents studied.

More studies needed
The risk reduction was most pronounced in people who were age 80 and older, Meier and his associates report. However, they note, "there was no effect associated with past use of calcium channel blockers."

The investigators say more research is needed to determine why calcium channel blockers appear to protect against Parkinson's disease, whether this is indeed a causal association, and why the other high blood pressure medications do not offer a reduced risk. 

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