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High blood pressure may be tied to Alzheimer's

March 21, 2013

A considerable amount of research goes into better understanding the mechanisms behind the development of Alzheimer's disease, and new findings suggest that a seemingly unrelated condition could be a big factor. Scientists from the University of Texas at Dallas Center for Vital Longevity found that adults who have high blood pressure tend to have an increased level of amyloid plaques that are often associated with Alzheimer's. 

The findings, which were published recently in the journal JAMA Neurology, are based off an analysis of nearly 150 adults between 30 and 89. Researchers relied on a number of factors to assess cognitive function including brain scans and memory tests. They also administered blood pressure tests and reviewed which participants were taking medication to manage hypertension. Researchers determined that those who had high blood pressure and were not taking medications were more likely to have amyloid plaques, a discovery that experts hope will offer new pathways for treatment and prevention. 

"I became interested in whether hypertension was related to increased risk of amyloid plaques in the brains of otherwise healthy people," said study researcher Dr. Karen Rodrigue. "Identifying the most significant risk factors for amyloid deposition in seemingly healthy adults will be critical in advancing medical efforts aimed at prevention and early detection."

Uncovering potential methods for Alzheimer's prevention and memory care is particularly important in light of a recent report from the Alzheimer's Association. Experts found that an estimated one in three senior deaths is linked to Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. The results suggest that even if the cognitive disease is not the root cause, it can exacerbate other health conditions and make it difficult to complete activities of daily living and manage medications.