Referring to yet another NY Times article that refers to a study in China, researchers measured a 40% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s in those treated for diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol. In the study of 837 Chinese residents with mild cognitive impairment, 50% of those with cardiovascular risk factors developed Alzheimer’s disease over a 5 year period as compared to 36% without these risk factors. Those with risk factors who were treated experienced a 40% risk reduction. The study was published in the journal Neurology.
Neurology has also published studies that focus on reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by treating diabetes. Researchers refer to diabetes in this subset of the population as Type 3 diabetes where it is strongly linked with “neuroaging”, a premature aging of the brain due to the metabolic and cardiovascular effects of diabetes. Also some time ago I read an Italian study that showed how nursing home admissions for Alzheimer’s disease were greatly reduced in those with hypertension when treated with an antihypertensive drug ramipril. What this says is that cardiovascular damage from these conditions is strongly linked to the development of dementia. It also suggests that if we can identify these risks then we can intervene with established treatments to slow the progression to full-blown dementia thereby aging in place.
Theories abound but what’s important is to understand the role of these risk factors and their potential for leading to dementia if left untreated. My observation in a large older adult cohort is that isolated systolic hypertension is rampant in as many at 33% of this population yet remains untreated. When you get screened for these risk factors, the next step would be to choose appropriate treatment and monitor that treatment in order to prevent adverse events from occurring. Please feel free to scan my previous posts on diabetes and neuroaging, isolated systolic hypertension and others on dementia.