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Genetic predispositions to high blood pressure and high cholesterol could significantly increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

According to American researchers, one in three cases of Alzheimer’s disease is associated with modifiable risk factors such as physical inactivity, depression or smoking. But a new study shows that people who are genetically predisposed to certain cardiovascular diseases also have a higher risk of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

On the same subject

What increases the risk of Alzheimer's

According to this study, published in the journal JAMA Network Openpeople who have genes that predispose them to suffer from high blood pressure or to have a high level of high density lipoproteins (the good cholesterol) would have an increased risk of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Also, pThe higher the HDL cholesterol level or the higher a person’s blood pressure, the higher the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

This large study was conducted on the DNA of 39,106 participants with clinically diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease (aged 72-83) and 401,577 control participants without the disease (aged 51-80). The data came from the BEuropean bank on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

An 18% increased risk in the event of obesity

In May 2022, a previous study had already shown that theassociation of a sedentary lifestyle and overweight radically increased the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. According to this study, published in the journal JAMA Neurologya person suffering from midlife obesity would be 18% more at risk of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease later in life. Physical inactivity, on the other hand, would increase the risk by 13%.

To achieve these results, the researchers collected data from 378,615 people. One in five participants was aged 65 or over, an age where the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease is already increased. Each of the participants was questioned in order to know if he suffered from one of the potential factors of the disease, in particular the level of education, depression or even smoking.

Unsurprisingly, obesity was found to be the most harmful risk factor, followed by physical inactivity and then low education. A man suffering from these risk factors would then be about 35% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, compared to 30% more for women. Among them, in the United States, Afro-Americans and Native Americans are the populations most at risk: they would indeed be more likely to suffer from obesity and hypertension, two determining factors.

Sources:

  • Genetic Associations Between Modifiable Risk Factors and Alzheimer Disease, Jama network, May 2023
  • Risk factors associated with Alzheimer disease and related dementias by sex and race and ethnicity in the US, JAMA NeurologyMay 2022

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