Blood Pressure & Signs of a Declining Mind

Alzheimers disease early risk factors may be triggered by high blood pressure

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Maintaining a healthy blood pressure is important for a lot of reasons. For people with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease, it may help prevent early Alzheimer’s symptoms.

In a recent study, researchers did brain scans on a group of people to look for early signs of protein buildup that could lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

Results showed that people with uncontrolled high blood pressure and a family history of Alzheimer’s disease had double the protein buildup in their brains compared to the rest of the group.

"Get your high blood pressure under control."

Karen Rodrigue, PhD, assistant professor in the Center for Vital Longevity at the University of Texas at Dallas, led an investigation into high blood pressure as a risk factor for people with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease.

Current research points to amyloid plaque build-up in the brain as the beginnings of Alzheimer’s disease. There may also be a genetic component to developing Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers set out to test if the ApoE4 gene variant, which may exist in as much as 20 percent of the population, in combination with high blood pressure, would increase a person’s risk for developing amyloid plaques in the brain.

For the study, 118 adults between the ages of 47 and 89 with no apparent symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease underwent brain scans.

Participants were injected with a special dye (florbetapir, brand name Amyvid) to make amyloid plaque easier to see on a brain scan.

Participants were also screened for the genetic marker ApoE4 and tested for high blood pressure seven times throughout the study.

The results of the study showed that participants with both high blood pressure and the ApoE4 gene had higher levels of amyloid plaques in their brain scans.

These higher levels were about twice as high as those of people either without the genetic risk factor or with normal blood pressure or medicated high blood pressure.

Participants that were being treated with high blood pressure medication had similar levels of amyloid plaque in their brains compared to people with normal blood pressure.

The authors suggested that people use behavioral modification, healthy diet and exercise and, if necessary, blood pressure medication to keep the brain healthy as it ages.

“Identifying the most significant risk factors for amyloid deposition (deposit and accumulate) in seemingly healthy adults will be critical in advancing medical efforts aimed at prevention and early detection,” said Dr. Rodrigue.

This study was published in March in JAMA Neurology.

The Dallas Lifespan Brain Study, the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association supported this project. Avid Radiopharmaceutical donated doses of Amyvid for use during the study. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 20, 2013
Last Updated:
August 16, 2013