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Alzheimer News 8/23/2005
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New study makes heart-head connection

The more vascular risk factors a person has, the greater the risk of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new report published in the Aug. 23 Neurology.

Scientists exploring the link between Alzheimer's and high blood pressure, heart disease, smoking and diabetes in more than 1,100 white, Hispanic and African-American older adults, found that those with three or more of these vascular risk factors had nearly three-and-one-half times the risk of developing Alzheimer's as those with none. Diabetes and smoking were the strongest risk factors by themselves.

"Each heartbeat pumps 25 percent of your blood to your brain, where an extremely rich blood vessel network delivers about 20 percent of your body's oxygen and blood sugar to the cells," says William H. Thies, Ph.D., Alzheimer's Association vice president, medical and scientific affairs. "Evidence continues to grow that interfering with this supply chain puts brain cells at risk, including an increased likelihood of Alzheimer's disease.

"The good news is all those risk factors can be controlled through lifestyle or medical management," Thies continues. "Alzheimer's Association Maintain Your Brain® is a public health and education campaign to raise awareness of steps all Americans can take now to make brain health part of their overall goals for healthy aging."

The study's Columbia University researchers note that data on blood pressure and diabetes were based on participants' own reports, and self-reporting tends to underestimate the real prevalence of conditions. As a result, the connection between Alzheimer's and vascular risk factors may be even stronger than these data suggest.

For more information, please see:

  • Alzheimer's Association Maintain Your Brain®, a public education campaign to raise awareness of dietary measures and other brain health strategies


Alzheimer's Association

Our vision: A world without Alzheimer's disease®.
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.