10/19/2011 03:49 pm ET | Updated Dec 19, 2011

Blood Pressure Medication Could Help Ward Off Alzheimer's, Study Shows

A type of blood pressure medication could help to combat Alzheimer's disease, a new study suggests.

Researchers from Bristol University in the U.K. found that over-60-year-olds who had ever taken angiotensin II receptor blockers have a 50 percent lower risk of Alzheimer's disease, compared with people who've taken other kinds of blood pressure medicines.

However, the researchers cautioned that the effect is merely an association -- it does not show that the drugs have a causative effect at preventing Alzheimer's.

"Nobody should be rushing to their doctor saying they want to be put on these just yet," study researcher Dr. Patrick Kehoe told The Telegraph.

The study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, involved more than 60,000 people over age 60 who live in Britain, The Telepgraph reported.

Researchers noted that this type of blood pressure medication targets a specific pathway in the body known as the angiotensin system. This pathway is known to affect blood pressure, and past research has linked high blood pressure with dementia.

HuffPost blogger Dr. Scott Mendleson, M.D., author of the book Beyond Alzheimer's, explains:

To some degree, this is due to the fact that high blood pressure increases the risk of developing heart disease, which is a major risk factor for dementia. However, high blood pressure itself is known to cause subtle damage to the fine network of blood vessels in the brain. Over time this results in inflammation, hardening of the arteries, poor blood flow, and secondary damage to the brain tissue that depends on these blood vessels for a steady supply of oxygen, fuel and nutrients. These insults to the brain increase the risk of Alzheimer's Disease.

Recently, a study presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in France showed that high blood pressure, not exercising, smoking and being obese are risk factors for the disease, the Associated Press reported.