medsA new report suggests people taking a widely used group of drugs to treat high blood pressure also may lower the risk of Parkinson’s disease.

In a study population, the medications, known as calcium channel blockers lowered the risk of Parkinson’s disease by 23 percent.

The study involved 7,374 men and women over age 40. Half of the group had Parkinson’s disease; the other half did not have Parkinson’s disease. Among both groups, nearly half used high blood pressure medications, such as calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors, AT II antagonists and beta blockers.

The study found people who were currently long-term users of calcium channel blockers to treat high blood pressure lowered their risk of Parkinson’s disease compared to people who didn’t take the drugs. There was no such effect among people taking ACE inhibitors, AT II antagonists and beta blockers.

The research study is published in the online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“Long-term use of calcium channel blockers was associated with a reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s disease while no such association was seen for other high blood pressure medicines,” said study author Christoph R. Meier, PhD, MSc, with University Hospital Basel in Switzerland.

Meier says 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.

Source: American Academy of Neurology