Researchers: Stroke survivors may cut pneumonia risk with blood-pressure drugs

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Treatment with a popular blood pressure drug cut the incidence of pneumonia in post-stroke patients by a third, according to Japanese researchers writing in the journal Neurology.

The investigators studied 1,000 stroke patients for 35 months to reach their findings. A group treated with ACE inhibitors had 2.8% of patients developing pneumonia, while the group treated with other blood pressure drugs or nothing acquired pneumonia at an 8.5% rate cumulatively. ACE inhibitors include blood pressure drugs such as Accupril and Zestril.

The researchers, led by Dr. Kiyohisa Sekizawa, at the University of Tsukuba in Ibaraki, theorize that ACE inhibitors may lead to increased levels of a body chemical that can tighten a key junction between the esophagus and stomach. Stroke patients can be at special risk for aspiration pneumonia due to muscle and nerve problems that occur during the stroke period.