JHU Study Offers Additional Evidence that Cardiovascular Risk Factors Drive Alzheimer’s Development

JHU Study Offers Additional Evidence that Cardiovascular Risk Factors Drive Alzheimer’s Development
Cardiovascular risk factors in middle age contribute later in life to amyloid-beta plaque in the brain, according to a comprehensive study that followed adults for more than 20 years. The findings underscore the idea that lifestyle factors are crucial drivers of Alzheimer's disease. Importantly, this signals that Alzheimer’s is not inevitable, since these risk factors are potentially preventable. Numerous studies have proven the links between the so-called metabolic syndrome — including obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, as well as smoking — and Alzheimer’s. But whether these factors increase the risk of the disease through actions on amyloid-beta was previously unknown. The study, “Association Between Midlife Vascular Risk Factors and Estimated Brain Amyloid Deposition,” appeared in the journal JAMA. In 1987-89, researchers at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine recruited 346 adults without dementia to the study. Participants were then 45 to 64 years old and lived in three communities: Washington County, Md.; Forsyth County, N.C., and Jackson, Miss. At study entry, they were screened for cardiovascular risk factors and markers. Between 2011 and 2013, JHU researchers again examined participants with a brain imaging method, capable of measuring how much amyloid-beta has accumulated in the brain. Researchers then analyzed the associations, taking into account factors such as age, sex, ethnicity, presence of the APOE risk gene and educational level. The final ana
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