ACE inhibitors, which are used for treating heart failure and cases of high blood pressure, might also help prevent amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, revel the findings of s study carried out on the entire adult population of Taiwan diagnosed with the disorder. ALS is a progressive nervous system disease in which patients lose control over their voluntary muscle functions gradually. It might lead to paralysis later, since there is no known cure for it.

By age 70, between 1 in 400 and 1 in 1,000 people will develop ALS, according to Dr. Lin and colleagues. The ALS Association reports that around 5,600 people in the US are diagnosed with ALS each year. A majority of those diagnosed with the disorder die within three to five years of diagnosis.

In this particular study, individuals with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) were significantly less likely to have used so-called ACE inhibitors prior to diagnosis than otherwise similar individuals in the general population, researchers said. Not only were the patients taking ACE inhibitors much less likely to develop ALS than people who didn’t take the medications, patients who took the medications longer appeared to have a lower risk of ALS.

“Our study suggests that ACE inhibitor use has a potential role in the prevention of ALS,” Lee and colleagues wrote online in JAMA Neurology, although they acknowledged that the study was limited by its retrospective design and its reliance on administrative records, among other factors.

Charles Tzu-Chi Lee, PhD, an associate professor in the department of public health at Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan, and his colleagues compared 729 ALS patients with 14,580 people without this condition to see whether the use of ACE inhibitors had any effect on the development of the condition for the purpose of this study.

“The people with ALS had been diagnosed between January 2002 and December 2008. Among those with ALS, 15% reported using ACE inhibitors in the two to five years before their ALS diagnosis. Among those without ALS, about 18% said they took ACE inhibitors,” Lee said. The researchers also studied the role played by other types of blood pressure monitoring drugs in treating and preventing ALS and found that the only other drug associated with lower ALS risk was aspirin.

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