In a new study, researchers found that common drugs for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol can also help fight serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
The new finding may help develop new treatments for these diseases. The research was led by UCL.
Previous research has shown that serious mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder, are linked to high levels of morbidity and hard to treat.
In the study, the team examined health data records of 142,691 patients with serious mental diseases in Sweden.
These patients had been prescribed statin drugs for reducing cholesterol/heart disease, LTCC for reducing high blood pressure, or metformin for treating diabetes.
The researchers found that using any of the drugs was linked to a reduced risk of going to hospital due to the mental diseases.
In addition, self-harm was reduced in patients with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia during exposure to all study drugs.
For people with non-affective psychosis, a high blood pressure drug LTCC showed strong effects.
The findings suggest that common drugs for heart disease and high blood pressure can be repurposed to help treat these disorders.
The team suggests that future work needs to examine the effects of these drugs on psychiatric symptoms.
All three studied drugs are globally licensed, commonly used, and relatively safe medications. Therefore, they are ideal for repurposing.
They hope the new findings may lead to new drug development to benefit those with serious mental illnesses.
This is the first study using large population datasets to examine how commonly used drugs could benefit people with serious mental illnesses.
The lead author of the study is Dr. Joseph Hayes (UCL Psychiatry).
The research is published in JAMA Psychiatry.
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