Common blood pressure drugs may cut the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study.

U.S. researchers found beta blockers — prescribed since the 1960s to lower blood pressure — may protect against changes in the brain, which could be signs of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.

Having high blood pressure in middle age puts patients more at risk of developing these conditions, as well as heart and circulatory disorders, the Daily Mail reported.

In a study, researchers examined the brains of 774 elderly Japanese-American men after death. They had all taken part in the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study.

Of the men, 610 had high blood pressure or were being treated for high blood pressure.

Among the 350 who had been treated, 15 per cent had received beta blockers alone, 18 per cent had been given beta blockers plus another high blood pressure medication and the rest had received other blood pressure drugs.

The study found that all types of high blood pressure treatments were clearly better at protecting the brain than no treatment, according to preliminary data presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in San Diego.

But men who had been given beta blockers as their only blood pressure medication had fewer brain abnormalities compared with those who had not been treated for hypertension, or those who had received other high blood pressure drugs.

The brains of men who had received beta blockers along with other high blood pressure medication showed an intermediate reduction in brain abnormalities.

“These results are exciting, especially since beta blockers are a common treatment for high blood pressure,” study author Dr. Lon White, of the Pacific Health Research and Education Institute in Honolulu, said.

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