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STUDY: New research suggests what’s good for heart is good for brain
JOURNAL: International Alzheimer’s Conference
AUTHORS: Dr. Robert Green
ABSTRACT: Mounting evidence indicates the risk factors for heart disease — high blood pressure, diabetes, excess weight, high cholesterol and lack of exercise — also may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease.
COMMENTARY: NEW STUDIES establish the big picture for the first time, giving scientists a better understanding of how to reduce the likelihood the disease.
Over the last few years, hints of a connection between Alzheimer’s and lifestyle have emerged, but scientists have become increasingly interested in investigating such a link and are just now beginning to realize that what is good for the heart may also be good for the brain.
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease that causes memory loss, disorientation, depression and decay of bodily functions. The disease afflicts about 12 million people worldwide, including more than 4 million Americans. It is increasing so fast that more than 22 million people worldwide will be affected by 2025, experts predict.
Scientists do not know what causes the sticky brain deposits that inevitably kill off neural cells until memory disintegrates and ultimately the patient dies. The biggest risk for Alzheimer’s is simply age: Alzheimer’s cases double with every five years of age between 65 and 85.
While more research is necessary, especially in the form of prevention trials, we’re seeing the strongest evidence yet that there is a relationship between healthy aging and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s.
One 21-year study, by Miia Kivipelto of the University of Kuopio in Finland, examined 1,449 people. It found that the high cholesterol and high blood pressure seemed to be more strongly linked to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s than was a certain gene variation.
Since high blood pressure can be controlled, we may have identified something people can do to lower their chance of developing Alzheimer’s.
Bottom line is to age well and control diseases like hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol.