A new study shows that people who have risk factors for stroke and heart disease are also more likely to develop changes in their brain which can lead to Alzheimer’s. This is not the first study that focuses on the connection between risk factors for cardiovascular problems and Alzheimer’s disease. Previous research has shown that risk factors like diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure can also trigger dementia.
- Risk factors for heart disease include obesity, smoking, and diabetes
- Researchers observed a connection between these factors and elevated amyloid
- Being obese or having diabetes in middle age can trigger dementia in old age
In this new research, scientists focused on showing how these risk factors can increase the chances of developing cognitive decline and dementia. Until now, it has been unclear how these factors can cause Alzheimer’s. The question is whether they cause a buildup of an amyloid fragment which are connected to this condition or if they restrict the blood flow indirectly.
“In our study, we found an association between the number of risk factors that people without dementia had when they were middle-aged and the risk of having amyloid in their brain when they were older,” said lead study author Dr. Rebecca Gottesman
Researchers focused on middle-aged people for this study. In order to conduct this study, scientists analyzed data from 345 adults. Since the 1980s, these people have been evaluated for risk factors for heart diseases. None of the 52-year-old participants suffered from dementia in the 1980s. Now, the 76-year-old people underwent brain scans to see if they had any risk of Alzheimer’s.
At the beginning of the study, more than 2 decades ago, 20% of participants presented no risk factors, while 42% of them had 2 and 38% presented 1. Researchers observed that having these factors when you are in midlife is worse than developing them at old age.
After the scientists performed the brain scans they discovered that 30% of those who presented no factors had high levels of amyloid. On the other hand, more than 60% of the participants who had at least 1 risk fact had elevated amyloid at old age.
This shows that there is a link between these factors in middle age and the high levels of amyloid in old age. Having elevated amyloid is a high risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. The sex and race of the participants did not influence the findings of the study. This research shows that people who take care of their heart when they are in middle age are less likely to suffer from dementia at old age.
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