Midlife Interventions can Reduce Risks of Alzheimer's
Vascular risk factors may play an important role for Alzheimer's disease. During midlife, a combination of high blood pressure and high serum cholestorol concentration, increases the risk of Alzheimer's in later life. Scientist have been tracking people since 1972 and comparing the outcomes of those with high blood pressure and high serum cholesterol in Finnish and Japanese samples. They found that those who were later diagnosed with Alzheimer's, or other forms of dementia, often had a history of high blood pressure.
Systolic diastolic blood pressure readings and Alzheimer's
Studies relating blood pressure with Alzheimer's are not new but they tend to identify high diastolic blood pressure as a risk factor. More recently, high systolic blood pressure has been identified as an additional risk factor.
Raised blood pressure and Alzheimer's risk
People with Alzheimer's disease are more likely to have a history of raised blood pressure and to have recieved treatment. This raises an issue as to whether the treatment regime itself might be a causal factor. However, many people being treated for high blood pressure never actually achieve their target blood pressure, so it remains high.
In the Japanese / Finnish study both those who were being treated and those left untreated for high blood pressure were reviewed. It was found that in the case of Japanese-American men only those with untreated hypertension predicted Alzheimer's disease.
Treatment may help reduce or delay the onset of Alzheimer's
With an increasing elderly population and the lack of any specific cure for Alzheimer's, the implications of insights such as this can have far-reaching consequences. If raised blood pressure and serum cholesterol are risk factors then interventions during midlife can, however modestly, help reduce or delay the onset of Alzheimer's. It is also within the gift of people in their midlife to modify their diet and lifestyle in order to maintain their health as long as possible.