The University of Texas in Dallas has recently conducted a study linking uncontrolled hypertension and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States – Alzheimer’s Disease. The study’s results are published in the online March 18 JAMA Neurology and indicate that hypertension may increase the risk for Alzheimer’s.
147 individuals with normal brain function, aged 30-89, were included in the study. They were sorted into several categories: those with unmanaged hypertension, those taking medication for their hypertension, those who did not have high blood pressure, and those with a genetic risk for Alzheimer’s. Participants were then screened for the presence of amyloid protein, a substance that has been associated with Alzheimer’s, and typically appears at least a decade before the disease begins to manifest itself.
Karen Rodrigue, PhD, assistant professor at the UT Dallas Center for Vital Longevity, found that the levels of amyloid protein in those with unmanaged hypertension who also had a genetic risk were significantly higher than all the other groups. Participants who had the same genetic risk, but were taking medications for their hypertension had the same levels of amyloid protein as those without hypertension or genetic predisposition.
According to the Examiner:
“Keeping good vascular health may limit or delay the brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other aging-related neurological deterioration,” Rodrigue told HealthDay News.
Despite promising findings, Rodrigue says further studies are still necessary to establish a direct link between the two diseases. It is also important to look into the management of hypertension itself which includes diet and lifestyle modifications, and medications and how these may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.