Is Nilvadipine the latest Alzheimer’s treatment?

NilvadipineCC: Pasja1000 at Pixabay

In the wonderful world of pharmaceuticals it’s often the case that we discover a new benefit of an existing drug. According to recent research, nilvadipine could prove useful in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

With over 5.8 million people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in the United States, it’s hardly surprising that people are searching for a cure. So, what is nilvadipine? And how does it treat Alzheimer’s?

Nilvadipine is an effective blood pressure medication

Nilvadipine is a blood pressure medication. More specifically, it acts as a calcium channel blocker. They prevent calcium from reaching your blood vessels and heart cells, which then results in a moderate reduction in blood pressure. As calcium regulates blood flow by causing your arteries to narrow, these medications reduce the resistance your heart beats against.

People have been using nilvadipine to treat blood pressure in Europe, Japan, and the United States in the 1990s. The most recent study isn’t the first to discover that it has a positive relationship with reducing dementia symptoms. Japanese researchers have also noted that those who take nilvadipine are less likely to experience cognitive decline.

A small-scale study with positive findings

The most recent research looked into 44 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. It took place at Radbound University Medical Center and was a double-blind trial. Double-blind basically means that neither the physician nor the patient knew who was taking nilvadipine and who was taking a placebo.

The patients were divided into nilvadipine and placebo groups. Each group took their target drug for six months. They also received an MRI at the start and end of the six-month period. Of those who took nilvadipine, there was improved blood flow to the memory and learning areas of the brain. This suggests that the drug could slow cognitive decline in those suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Greater hope for Alzheimer’s patients

As you probably guessed, this is a relatively small trial. That means physicians are unlikely to begin prescribing nilvadipine for Alzheimer’s just yet. If they choose to do so, they would be acting off-licence. While it’s permissible to engage in off-licence prescribing, doctors need solid research to back up such actions.

The study does give fresh hope, though. Alzheimer’s is notoriously mysterious and difficult to treat. While the medical world understands a lot about it, it doesn’t have a full appreciation of it yet. As such, there’s a chance that this study could act as a platform for larger areas of research that deliver impressive results.

About the Author

Laura McKeever
Laura has been a freelance medical writer for eight years. With a BSc in Medical Sciences and an MSc in Physician Assistant Studies, she complements her passion for medical news with real-life experiences. Laura’s most significant experience included writing for international pharmaceutical brands, including GSK.