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Effects of six anti-hypertensive medications on cognitive performance.

Author(s): Muldoon MF, Waldstein SR, Ryan CM, Jennings JR, Polefrone JM, Shapiro AP, Manuck SB

Affiliation(s): Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, USA. mfm10@pitt.edu

Publication date & source: 2002-08, J Hypertens., 20(8):1643-52.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial

OBJECTIVE: To describe and compare the effects of six different antihypertensive medications on cognitive performance. DESIGN : Prospective, randomized, and double-blind with treatment cross-over. SETTING : University hypertension clinic and neuropsychology laboratory. PARTICIPANTS: Ninety-eight Caucasian men between 25 and 55 years of age with mild-to-moderate essential hypertension (88 of whom completed the study), and 32 normotensive men with similar socio-demographic characteristics. INTERVENTIONS : Six-week treatment periods with atenolol, metoprolol, hydrochlorothiazide, methyldopa, enalapril and verapamil, and 2-week placebo baseline and wash-out periods. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES : In-depth neuropsychological assessments and several mood questionnaires were completed during placebo (baseline) periods and active treatment periods. Practice effects due to repeated neuropsychological testing were estimated from data collected concurrently in the normotensive participants. RESULTS : The antihypertensive treatments lowered blood pressure comparably and did not affect mood or anxiety. Small treatment effects were noted in four of seven domains of cognitive performance. Irrespective of medication type, treatment reduced the simple motor speed (P < 0.001), and slowed completion of two tests measuring perceptuo-motor speed and mental flexibility (P </= 0.05). Manual dexterity declined somewhat with metoprolol and methyldopa (P = 0.01). In contrast, all antihypertensive agents favorably affected performance on several tests that require working memory (P < 0.01). Performance on other tests assessing grip strength, learning and memory, attention and executive function was not affected. CONCLUSION : Short-term treatment with standard antihypertensive medications was associated with some small decrements in psychomotor performance and small improvements in working memory, without notable drug-class differences. Long-term effects await further study.

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