SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Upstate Medical University is looking for patients for a clinical trial testing how effective a blood pressure medication may be to help some Alzheimer’s patients: those with disruptive agitation, a common symptom of the disease.

Dr. Sharon Brangman, Director of Upstate’s Department of Geriatrics, says the behaviors can be stressful to the patient and the family, and make day-to-day tasks challenging.

“They can include things like being agitated, refusing care, being verbally mean to people. Sometimes physically aggressive,” Brangman said.

Upstate’s Nappi Longevity Institute is participating in the study, coordinated by the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study.

Brangman says it’s about 12-weeks long and can be done from home, and it could make a world of difference for those living with Alzheimer’s.

This blood pressure medicine called Prazosin actually blocks a special receptor in the brain that may keep the brain from getting overstimulated.

Dr. Sharon Brangman

Since the drug is already on the market, they won’t need special approval if it does work.

“We don’t have a lot of tools to cure or treat Alzheimer’s right now. So, what we’re doing is trying to figure out the best way to use current medication to the maximum benefit to help people,” said Brangman.

For those who have concerns about putting a loved one on a blood pressure medication they don’t need for its original use, Brangman says early research finds patients tolerate the drug well, and they’ll be monitoring blood pressure very closely.

Trial participants will take two tablets twice a day as their families check their blood pressure, while hopefully, helping other patients in the process.

“It may help us find a way of taking care of these behaviors so that we can provide relief to others who are in your position.”

dr. sharon brangman

To volunteer for the study or to learn more information, contact Upstate Geriatrics Clinical Research at 315-464-3285 or